Saturday, April 30, 2011

Imperial period Roman ship found in Ostia Antica

Archaeologists say they have found part of an ancient ship near Rome during repair work to a bridge. The 11 metre vessel is one of the largest ancient vessels excavated near Ostia Antica, a port city founded some 2,500 years ago.

The original river harbour of Ostia had limitations as larger ships such as this one could not enter it due to a sand bar near the mouth of the river. Mercantile goods that arrived in large sea going ships had to be transferred to smaller vessels at sea then these shallow-draught vessels could navigate the river and moor at the Tiber quays, but as time passed there was just not enough capacity for Rome’s growing needs.

The Emperor Claudius started the construction of an artificial harbour, in AD 42 a few kilometres to the north of Ostia. A huge basin was created by enhancing a natural bay, protected by two curved moles and a lighthouse. A number of ships filled with Roman concrete was used as foundations for these moles.

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