Ostia Antica is an old Roman town on the coast, once appeared on the Tyrrhenian Sea, and now at about 2 km from the costs. The name in Latin it refers to the mouth (Ostium) of the Tevere. It was built by the quiriti who understood to provide itself of a natural outlet on the sea. It was the port of the ancient one Rome and perhaps its first colony
633 before Christ. This is the date that runs back much more when you want to speak about Ostia. The tradition entrusts the creation of the installation in Anco Marzio, fourth king of Rome. Studies more deepened retain that the exact period is in 400 b.C.. Theory strengthened by the finding of the Castrum, a small unit inhabited enclose from walls, dated 330 b.C.. Already in 278 b.C. the Cartaginese fleet disembarks, sent off in help of the Romen in the war against Pirro. The large development however, begins alone little later, when the Police headquarters Ostiense was founded, in 266 b.C.. It is the first step that will allow in few years a radical change of Ostia, both under the building profile and town planning, is for what concerns the commerce and the connections with other civility. The small stronghold becomes in a true Roman town, that comes enlarged, enclosure of new wall, getting ready itself so to the future developments. Later the senate capitulate excuses its port maritime from the payment of the taxes and sanctions in the facts a belonging to the town that drifts from the origins and from the function to what was preferred. In 217 b.C: the ships leave from Ostia to carry the supplies to the Roman army that itís in Iberia and in 212 b.C. the grain arrive from Sardinia. In 211 b.C. Ostia constitutes the base from where the thirty quinqueremi of Publio Cornelio Scipio leave, directed to Africa to the definitive conquest of Carthago.
Ostia was important for the port, because received loaded ships of cereals, oil and of garum come from all the empire and in first place from the provinces of the Sicily, of the Old Egypt, of the Africa and of the Sardinia. The goods came transfered on small boats that transported them in Rome going back the river. Generally, they were loaded in the Horrea (warehouses) of Testaccio.
In republican period the town was considered the Rome Emporium, where buy in the numerous shops and depots. Elegant houses were built to atrium and peristilio, with roads bordered by columns. The drains came built that ran under the roads and created a Necropoli outside the walls.
FROM THE PORT OF OSTIA TO PORT
The strategic geographical position induces the various Roman emperors that they will be alternated in the centuries (but also wealthy private citizens), to provide of all the services this stronghold, that thanks to these interventions will become a town of notable dimensions for those times: will arrive to count until 50.000 inhabitants, that will form, seen the bulky coming and going with the ports of the Mediterranean Sea, an extremely multiracial community.
Giulio Cesare had intuited the necessity to create a new close port Rome but the technical difficulties and the urgency of the other problems had made renounce it. Because of the increase of the commercial traffic that gave back insufficient the capacity of the mouth of the Tevere, the emperor Claudio, built from 42 b.C. a new port at about 3 km north of Ostia, connected to the Tevere by a canal, finished in 46 b.C., the Fiumicino canal, with the formation of a Sacred island. The Port will be finished by Nerone in 66-64 b.C. but was already active from 62 b.C.
The new port, of big circular shape manner, was created departing from an artificial field of 90 hectares and of 10m of depth, built using a lagoon that was developed, with the sandy cord that constituted a natural protection. The entrance of the field was bolted by an immense dam of 758 m of length and 3 m of width, leaving for the entrance to the port a passage of 206 m, between the dam and a long pier 600 m and wide 12 m, the so-called Monte Giulio, situated to north-east on the land stops.
Were created dockings and "horrea" on two arms of the port, that in complex covered more of 100 hectares, to facilitate the exchanges and the stockpiling of the goods.
In the end of the large dam was erected a light, like to that one of the port of Alessandria, using as foundation the ship used by the emperor Caligola to carry from the Egypt the obelisk that now itís in Vatican. The ship was replenished of stones, therefore made sink to create to emerge so an artificial islet. According to the researchers the intense activities asked for the intervention of 30000 workers and of 1000 couple of oxen in 20 years.
HEXAGONAL PORT OF TRAIANO
But this new port was too exhibited to the snares of the storms: Tacito restores that already in 62 b.C., before the intense activities are carried to completion, a storm sank 200 ships. Besides its maintenance was extremely expensive. Therefore the emperor Traiano built a new port, the Port of Traiano, more functional and withdrawn than the other one of Claudio. The works lasted from 100 to 112 b.C. with the creation of a hexagonal field of shape with sides of 358 m and deep 5 m, with a surface of 32 hectares and 2000 meters of path. A further channel was built, and the connection to Ostia was ensured from a road to two lanes.
To the Portus Traiani, were built warehouses and depots to allow the best preservation of the food commodities. To the utmost of its expansion Ostia included immense depots that covered a surface of 10 hectares. They were more spacious than of those one of the same Rome.
During the period of its greatest prosperity, during the II and the III century, Ostia had an urban population of 75.000 inhabitants. In the town were built a lot of buildings among which the Basilica and Curia.
Between 117 and 161, the emperors Adriano and Pious Antonino rebuilt and to rearrange the center, with residences to more plans but with spacious public inside and new buildings, among which the new Campidoglio, the Baths of Neptune and the barracks of the watchful.
In 180, the emperor Commodo built the new theater of Ostia.
Between 203 and 217, the emperors Severe Settimio and Caracalla enlarged and renewed the Theater of Ostia and the square of the Corporations that included in the center the Temple of Cerere and surrounded it entirely of a colonnade, behind to which found the offices of the most important societies of commerce of all the Empire. The names of the societies were written on the mosaics that decorated the pavements and in this square where all the merchants, the craftsmen, the maritimes and the bankers met themselves.
To work better everything, the magistrates and the officials of the empire looked after. These one were charged:
∑ to watch the load and the discharging of the food commodities, to monitor the quality and the quantity,
∑ to carry out the payments and to withdraw the taxes,
∑ to make ensure the respect of the contracts, particularly those one between the State and the privates,
∑ to manage the relations with the shipowners,
∑ to watch the corporations of the workers of the ships transfer, of the docks, of the naval sites, of the firms charged some maintenance of the paths and of the depots. Existed also a corporation of divers charged to recover the merchandises fallen in water.
Aureliano embellished the Foro, Massenzio as Prefect of Ostia, allowed the privilege of a local Mint.
It is necessary remember also the Domus; the Insule, the shops (splendid example, the Termopolium); The Temple of Ercole; the Mitreo of Seven Spheres; the Domus of the Door Annonaria; the Decuman Utmost; the houses with four plans; Temples, Statues, Mosaics and all that could represent the luxury and the modernity of those times.