The Isola Sacra Survey: Ostia, Portus and the port system of Imperial Rome
Edited by Simon Keay, Martin Millett, Kristian Strutt and Paola Germoni
The Isola Sacra occupies the land between Ostia and Portus at the mouth of the Tiber, and thus lies at the centre of the massive port complex that served Imperial Rome. This volume focuses on the results of a survey of the island completed as part of the Portus Project, complementing the previously published survey of Portus (2005) and the forthcoming publication of the German Archaeological Institute’s survey of Ostia. The survey is framed by an analysis of the geomorphology of the delta, and integrated with information from past excavations. It is complemented by a programme of geoarchaeological coring and a short account of the ships excavated on the Isola Sacra in 2011.
The results make an important contribution to the understanding of the landscape of both Portus and Ostia, offering new information about the development of the delta, and the changing use of the Isola Sacra. They also provide evidence for the buildings along Isola Sacra’s northern shore and the cemeteries that flank this settlement and the via Flavia (which runs between Portus and Ostia across the centre of the island). Most significantly, three completely new sets of features were revealed: a major canal that ran north–south across the island; a system of land divisions, which created blocks of fields; and a suburb of Ostia on the island’s southern flank. These results are key for understanding the development of the Portus–Ostia complex, and hence the economy of the City of Rome itself.