Ostia, from Latin Ostium (river mouth) the city took its name, is a large archaeological site, close to the modern town of Ostia, that is the location of the harbour city of ancient Rome, 15 miles (25 kilometres) southwest of Rome.
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"Ostia" (plural of "ostium") is a derivation of "os", the Latin word for "mouth". At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport, but due to silting the site now lies 3 kilometres (2 miles) from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
The location of this sector of the city, directly connected to the Tiber river and the river port, led to the development of a warehouse district from the Republican period onwards; initially these were constructed only in the area south of the decumanus since the area north of the road,used to load and unload goods, could not be built on at the time, as known from the boundary stones of Caninius. Starting from the early imperial period, large warehouse complexes were also erected in the area north of the decumanus as part of a larger urban planning project that also involved the constructionof public buildings like the Caserma dei Vigili (barracks of the fire-brigade), baths and private houses overlooking the street with monumental porticoes. There are also numerous warehouses in the other districts of the city, especially in the area next to the Tiber, forming part of an urban fabric that was also diversified from a functional point of view.
The travertine boundary stones that took their name from the praetor Gaius Caninius delimited an area of public land between the Tiber and the decumanus in the eastern sector of the city. Set aside for the unloading, transportaion and storage of goods, a prohibition against the construction of private buildings was in force in the area. The boundary stones date to the late Republican period, around 140 BCE, and are evidence of the enlargement of the port of Ostia in connection with the economic and social reforms of the Gracchi. The gradual raising of the street level and the occupation of this strip of public land by the complexes of imperial period led to the boundary stones definitively losing their function.
The Via Ostiensis (via Ostiense), literally meaning the "road of Ostia", was an important road in ancient Rome. It ran west 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the city of Rome to its important sea port of Ostia Antica, from which it took its name. The road began near the Forum Boarium, ran between the Aventine Hill and the Tiber River along its left (eastern) bank, and left the city's Servian Walls through the Porta Trigemina.
The decumanus maximus was the city's main street along with cardo, which crossed each other at the Forum. The decumanus was the stretch of the Via Ostiensis inside the city, running east-west and turning slightly towards the south in the direction of the sea.
The porticos of the "sloping roofs" (sides of the road, some 90 meters in length) on both sides of the road, these porticos were the rain cover for small shops situated along the decumanus maximus of Ostia. There were also "rental flats" on the second story of the buildings.
The southern stretch of the cardo followed the course of the more ancient Via Laurentina inside the city; the northern stretch, built from scratch, reached the banks of the Tiber river. Otherstreets also ran towards the river, like Via della foce and the Semita (or path) dei Cippi, important for commercial purposed. Many of the Ostia's major streets were built over more ancient routes, thus explaining the irregular orientation of the various districts. There was also a dense network of smaller lanes.
The Baths of the Forum (Terme del Foro), also known as the Baths of Gavius Maximus (Terme di Gavius Maximus) were built in around 160 CE by Marcus Gavius Maximus, the praetorian prefect of Antoninus Pius. These luxurious public baths (the largest in the city of Ostia) underwent significantrenovations in the fourth and fifth centuries CE, including the construction of a monumental entrance on Via della Forica. Through the cestibules, patrons entered the apodyteria (changing rooms) and a large frigidarium (room with basins of cold water) with high cross vaults. The heated rooms faced south to best exploittheirexposure to sunlight; thefirst room, octagonal in shape, was probably a heliocaminus (room for sunbathing); it was followed by a laconicum (room for steam baths) and warm and hot rooms. the building's rich marble decoration belongs to the restorations of the fourth century CE.
Baths of Neptune
The Baths of Neptune (Terme di Nettuno) rose, with a strict plan on top of the preceding Domitianic bath complex, of which they utilise, with few modifications, the plan and foundations, occupying an entire insula (block), in the course of the impressive renovation of the area promotedby Hadrian (circa 117-138 CE). These baths constitute an example of bath typology, that integrates itself with the surrounding building fabric and urban street network. The older principal entrance, that opened onto Via degli Vigili was flanked by a latrine and led into a vast room with the mosaic of Neptune. The changing rooms were arranged on the sides. To the north, one entered the baths, within which came in succession axially, a frigidarium for the coldest baths, two tepidaria filter rooms not equipped with basins and two calidaria. The west side was occupied by a palaestra that rose on a large cistern, no longer in use in the second century CE. From the Decumanus, everyone had access to the public spaces and facilities, including the latrine, positioned on the extreme right of the palaestra. The heating system was situated along the perimeter of the building, at a lower level. Hot air was piped from here into the air spaces created under the pavement and behind the walls. The water was supplied by the aquaduct and conserved in a cistern. These Baths of Neptune, grandiose in their structure and internal furnishings, were just one of about twenty bath complex whose high number (an increase occurs in the second century CE) are a direct consequence of the relative ease of the provisioning of water (ground water and aquaduct) and of the almost complete absence of private facilities in the houses. The use of the baths made it possible to discharge, in fact, the more basic norms of hygiene, facilitating access to the medical/curative services (massages, gymnastics, games etc) that were practised there andfavouring social relations.
Barracks of the Fire-brigade and Augusteum
The imposing Barracks of the fire-brigade (Caserma dei Vigili e Augusteum) reflect the importance attached in the city to the Vigiles (fire-brigade), who acted both as the town's police force and as the fire-fighters. The barracks were built in the late first century CE when a permanent fire brigade was established at Ostia. However, the layout visible today dates from the transformations that affected the entire district in the Hadrian's era (first half of the second century CE). Thecomplex, at least two story high, had a porticoed courtyard onto which opened the fire fighters' rooms and the wash basins, at the back was a shrine from the imperial cult, built in monumental form in the early third century CE. THe corner room, a latrine, was embellished with a shrine dedicated to Fortuna.
Baths of the Carriage Drivers
The baths of the carriage drivers or the charioteers (Terme dei Cisiarii) were built in the first half of the second century CE, these baths probably belonged wo the guild of the Cisiarii (carriage drivers). The northern part was occupied by the frigidarium (room for cold baths) whose original mosaic floor survives, depicting two concentric wall circuits within which are marine scenes and scenes of the life carriage druvers. Two rooms located at the centre of the complex were heated and decorated with figurative mosaics, belonging both to the original phase and to the later periods. The decoration was completed by fine figurative stucco reliefs on the walls and ceilings, found in a fragmentary state. A noria (wooden water wheel), discovered in the sourthern part of thecomplex, served to draw up and distribute the groundwater needed for the baths to function.
Baths of the Marina Gate
The Baths of the Marina Gate (Terme di Porta Marina) stood on the coast of Ostia Antica, outside the city wall, a little south of the Porta Marina. This gate was crossed by the decumanus maximus in the direction of the coast. The baths' ancient name, "thermae maritimae", emphasized the link with the sea. That appellation is found in a sixth century CE document in which restoration work during the reign of the emperor Valens is mentioned. The baths' foundation is to be placed during the Trajanic or Hadrianic periods, when there was lively building activity connected with the enlargement of Ostia's seaport. The complex is not vast (slightly more than 3200 square metres). The zone best organised in spatial terms is the northern, where the large frigidarium is situated. The Terme di Porta Marina constituted a public space, and their construction was promoted by the central authority, as can be seen from the rich and high-quality sculptural decoration and from a gallery of imperial portraits.
Baths of the Seven Sages
The Bath of the Saven Sages or the Wisemen (Terme dei Sette Sapienti), probably built during the Hadrianic period (circa 117-138 CE), takes its name from a painting of the "Seven Sages" decorating a room that may originally havebeenused a tavern and was later incorporated into the baths as a changing room. As is evident from the placement of the entrances, the baths were used not only by the residents of the adjacent buildings, but also by those of the surrounding district. The had a circular frigidarium (room for cold baths) with a domed roof, paved with a mosaic with hunting scenes and plant motifs; other fine mosaics decorated the walls of some niches. A second frigidarium preserves a painting of Venus being born from the waters (Anadyomene), dating to the early third century like the other paintings that survive in the adjacent rooms. Finally, in the south part of the complex were the tepidaria and calidaria (warm and hot rooms).
The Roman theatre of Ostica Antica (Teatro Romano di Ostia) was built under the reign of emperor Augustus at the end of the first century BCE. It was a majestic and imposing structure big enough to hold 2500 people. At the end of the second century it was further amplified to bring it to a seating capacity of 4000.
The theatre was built on the north side of the Decumanus Maximus. The masonry of the present theatre has been dated to the late second century CE. In the facade are sixteen shops with back-rooms. They were behind a portico, entered through arches. Brick pilasters with travertine bases were set against the arches. There were also arches on the second and third level, on the highest level with windows. Inside the portico, to the right of the main entrance, is a well with a travertine well-head from the period of Commodus. The shops had simple wall-paintings.
The Forum of Ostia (Foro), a public square lies at the centre of the commercial district. It is located where the cardo and decumanus intersect, itplayed a central role in the civic and religious life of the city from the foundation of the castrum (fourth century BCE). It was only at the start of the imperial period that this area took on the shape of a true forum, consisting of a large coentral square with the city's main religious and public building arranged around it. Already in this period, the north side of the Forum was occupied by the Capitolium, dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, and the south side by the Temple of Roma and Augustus. The west side was bounded by the basilica, used for the administration of justice, and the east side by the imposing public complex of the Terme del Foro. The square was monumentalized in the Hadrianic period, in around 120 CE, with the renovation of the capitolium and the addition of porticoes on the long sides; the open central space was gradually occupied by honorary statues of magistrates and public figures. The district also hosted other important sanctuaries, among which the Republican Sacred Area of Via della Foce stood out for antiquity and importance, alongside craftworking and commercial establishments (the Molino del Silvano, the Thermopolium of Via di Diana and Caseggiato del Larario), and warehouses (Horrea Epagathiana). Near the Forum there were also multi-story residential buildings (Casa di Diana, Caseggiato dei Dipinti and Caseggiato dei Balconi) with fine painted decorations.
Baths of the Provinces
The Baths of the Provinces (Terme delle Province) were discovered underneath a road dating to the early second century CE. The actual size of the baths dating back to the time of Claudius (circa 41-54 CE) is not possible to be determined. The only portion still visible is a fine black and whitemosaic presenting panels with depictions of weapons and geometrical motifs enclosed within a meander border. The central area is adorned with a panel containing depictions of dolphins, flanked by the personifications of the provinces of Spain, Sicily, Egypt and Africa, and of the winds, symbolized respectively by women's heads and men's heads. The figurative motifs probably allude to the development of maritime trade between the provinces of the western mediterranean and Rome following the construction of the port of Claudius.
Eastern and Western Porticus of Pius IX with Loggias
(Portico Est e Ovest di Pio IX con Loggias)
Baths of the Six Columns
The Baths of the six Columns (Terme delle Sei Colonne) are located on the western stretch of the decumanus and north of the Schola del Traiano. Starting in the first half of the second century CE the building complex underwent several phases of reconstruction and renovations. A bronze vessel containing 35 silver coins was found on the premises (most probably a foundation deposit). Most of the coins are from the republican period, some from the first century CE (197 BCE - 70 CE). The entrance corridor between the shops leads to the courtyard of the bath complex. In the centre of the courtyard are the six columns that give the building its current name. The courtyard replaces the palaestra. To the south-east is the cold bath, frigidarium, to the south-west are the heated rooms. In the north-west part of the building was a waterwheel lifting the ground water. Above the wheel and below room were the water reservoirs. Another reservoir and furnaces were in another room. In the north-west part of the building was a large latrine.
Baths of the Envious One
The Baths of the Envious One or the Jealous One (Terme dell'Invidioso), built circa 50 CE (opus reticulatum), were named after a textual mosaic found in an adjacent shop. Major alterations have been dated to the period of Antoninus Pius (opus latericium). The paintings and black-and-white mosaics have been dated to the first half of the third century CE. The latest masonry in the building belongs to the early fifth century CE. Three brick piers were set against the south facade, belonging to arches that spanned the road. Behind the westernmost one are a few strange decorative elements.
Mill/Bakery of Silvanus
The flour mill or bakery of Silvanus (Molino del Silvano), was used for the production and sale of bread. It was built in around 120 CE and destroyed by a fire in the late third century CE. It had six tabernae (shops) at the front. Whilst the inner rooms, floored with road paving stones, served to mill the flour and make dough, as we know from the presence of milstones and basins made of lava stone; the bread was baked in the corner room, which has a large oven. The bakery was connected directly to the grand warehouse (Grandi Horrea) on the opposite side of the street, where grain was stored. In the third century, an uncovered passageway behind the bakery was turned into a cult space for Silvanus, the popular god of fields and woods.
Fullonica on the Augustan Road
The Fullonica on the Augustan Street (Fullonica su via degli Augustali) was built in the early second century CE by converting a house of an earlier period. It consisted ofa huge room with a roof supported by pillars, hosting four large basins connected to one another and lined with cocciopesto, a coating that served to waterproof them. In the third century CE, 35 circular recipients in terracotta were added, separated by low brick walls against which the workers leant as the pressed the textiles with their feet. The fabrics were washed with a variety of substances, including natural soda and urine, which contains ammonia, and werehung out to dry on slender beams, as suggested by the presence of cavities in the sides of the pillars.
The large or grand warehouse (Grandi Horrea), Ostia's largest commercial building, is traditionally dated to the period of the emperor Claudius (circa 41-45 CE), though recent studies have proposed an initial date in the first century BCE. It had a porticoed courtyard with tufa columns, around which the cellae (storage chambers) were arranged on three sides. It was completely rebuilt between the late second and early third centuries CE, when the brick walls were renovated, two parallel rows of cellae were added in thecentre of the courtyard and the second story was constructed. At thistime, the floors of all the cellae were raised using suspensurae (little brick pillars), thus creating a space thatinsulatedthe grain stored here from damp.
Shop of the Fish-Seller
The shop of the fish-seller or the fishmonger (Taberne dei Pescivendoli) were built along the decumanus maximus. It was part of the northern porticus of the Macellum, the central market for fish, meat and vegetables. There are two sections, to the west and east of the entrance corridor of the Macellum. In the centre of both rooms is a marble table, and against the back wall a fish-basin revetted with marble, supporting small columns. In the eastern section is a black-and-white mosaic, with marine motifs; featuring a triton and a dolphin with an octopus in its beak.
Republican Era Warehouse
The Republican warehouse (Magazzini Repubblicani), a commercial complex was built at the end of the first century BCE, probably in connection with the river port to its north. During the first phase, it consisted of a rectangular building in opus qausi reticulatum surrounded by a portico with tufa pillars. Also connected to the warehouses was the Caseggiato del Cane Monnus, which had tabernae (shops) opening onto a portico. In the imperial period, the warehouses underwent a series of radical alterations, the most important of which was the transformation of their northern part into the Terme dei Cisiarii; the original internal level, lower than that of the surrounding buildings, probably remained unchanged.
Plaza of Corporations
The Plaza of the Headquarters of the Corporations (Piazzale delle Corporazioni) was a vast square open towards the Tiber and was designed together with the theatre in the Augustan period but was equipped with porticoes only during the time of Claudius (mid first century CE). Towards the end of the first century CE, a temple on a high podium with two Corinthian columns at the front was built at the centre of the square. Though the identity of the deity is not known with certainity, it is speculated that the temple was dedicated either to the goddess Ceres or the divinized royalty. Another transformation took place in the first half of the second century CE, when the portico was doubled and the earliest floor mosaic were laid; the latter were later remade when the internal space was subdivided into different rooms. The motifs depicted were linked with commercial activities; the presence of the inscriptions mentioning the corporations of the traders, ship-owners and entrepreneurs from both Ostia and elsewhere support the theory that these were the headquarters of the corporations themselves.
Warehouse of Epagathus and Epaphroditus
The warehouse of Epagathus and Epaphroditus (Horrea Epagathiana et Epaphroditiana) is known from an inscription to have been named after two freedmen (presumably its owners), Epagathus and Epaphroditus. This is the only warehouse in the Ostia Antica of which the ancient name is known from an inscription above the entrance. The storage complex can be dated to circa 145-150 CE (opus latericium). In the south wall part of the Castrum-wall was reused. The building was excavated and restored extensively in the years 1922-1923 and 1938-1940. Collapsed walls and piers were found on top of a layer of sherds and beaten earth, circa 0.70 high. The building was plundered in antiquity, witness holes in the vaults and higher parts of the walls.
House of Serapis
The House of the Serapis (Caseggiato del Serapide), together with the Caseggiato degli Aurighi and the Terme dei Sette Sapienti constitutes one of the city's largest building complexes, unitary from a construction point of view. The building, of the Hadrianic era (circa 117-138 CE), had a courtyard with very tall brick pillars and at least two upper floors that could be reached from stairs located in the courtyard itself and occupied by apartments. In the early third century CE, a small cult building was constructed in the courtyard, with a stucco depiction of the god Derapis and other Egyptian deities at the sides. A gateway decorated with stucco reliefs was also built, with a frieze of bucrania (ox heads, originally holding religious significance), which gave access to the next-door Terme dei Sette Sapienti.
House of Apuleius
The House of Apuleius (Domus di Apuleio) presents different phases of the construction, the first of which has been connected to thenearby small temples of the late republican period and may have belonged to the individual who built them, Publius Lucilius Gamala. The brick building now visible can be dated to aroundthe mid second century CE; the inscription preserved ona fistula (lead waterpipe) names the owner of the house during this phase as Lucius Apuleius Marcellus, perhapsto be identified as the author of the Metamorphoses, a famous literary work of the second century CE. The domus had a courtyard aligned with eight corinthian columns and an impluvium (central basin), with a row of rooms opening onto it to the east whilst other rooms were arranged in the west wing. Most of the rooms had mosaic floors.
House of the Corridor
The House of the Entrance Corridor (Domus del Protiro), a luxurious aristocratic house, was built in successive phases during the third century CE. It was accessed througha monumental entrance (prothyrum) with marble columns and a pediment on which the owner's name was inscribed, erased in antiquity. It had a central courtyard, embellished with a nymphaeum decorated on both sides, with a curved front and niches facing the vestibule and a facade with aedicules and marble pediments facing the main room. The latter had two columns at the entrance and was paved with marble slabs; a similar veneer, partly made of reused materials, was present in the more luxurious rooms of the house. A small underground room with niches and a well could be reached from the courtyard and can perhaps be interpreted as a domestic sanctuary.
House of Jupiter and Ganymede
The house (insula) of Jupiter and Ganymede (Domus di Giove e Ganimede), an apartment building, occupies part of the residential area known as the Caseggiato dei Dipinti of the Hadrianic period (circa 117-138 CE), with houses opening onto the street and a large communal courtyard at the rear. The layout has a central corridor and a small courtyard, serving to light the main room, located in the innermost sector of the house. The building takes its name from the subject of the mythological painting in the large reception room and was altered in the late second century CE, when the ceiling of this room was raised to a height of two storys and the painted decorations were made. At the same time the frescoes of the other rooms were also redonel they preserve a graffito dating to the period of the emperor Commodus (circa 180-192 CE). The mosaic floors belong to the building's original phase.
House of the Well
The House (domus) of the Well or Cistern (Domus del Pozzo) was in the second half of the third century CE on the ground floor of an earlier apartment buillding (insula) of the Hadrianic period (circa 130 CE). Both the original entrance with brick half-columns andthe internal layout, arranged around a corridor with the other rooms opening onto it, remained almost unaltered. The main sector of the domus, to the north, consisted of an antechamber and a room whose entrance was monumentalized in the most recent phase with the insertion of two marble columns; in the same phase, new marble floors were laid in both rooms. An underground room, which can be interpreted as a cistern for rainwater or more probably as a storeroom for foodstuffs, could be reached from a staircase located in the main room.
House of the Dolia
The House of the Buried Dolia (Caseggiato dei Doli) complex hada commercial function and was built at the same time as the nearby Insula dei Dipinti during the Hadrianic period (circa 117-138 CE). It had a row of shops opening onto the street with a vast space behind them; in the early third century CE the latter was transformed into a storage area for large containers for liquids (oil and wine) that were is part set into the ground (dolia defossa). Some dolia still have numbers incised on them indicating their capacity in amphorae, a unit of measurement equivalent to about 26 liters. Inside the dolia about 400 terracotta moulds, perhaps for cakes, were found, with mythological, theatrical, erotic and circus scenes; thecakes may have been handed out during public banquets or sold during shows.
House of the Paintings
The House of the Paintings (Casa dei Dipinti) is the modern name given to an apartment complex in Ancient Ostia. The house is a good example of the luxury living of a wealthy class of citizens in a large Roman city in the second century CE.
The House of the Paintings or Murals is the modern name given to an apartment complex in Ancient Ostia. The house along with a few other residential structures formed an insula with a magnificient central garden adorned with statues, benches and marble basins. This residential building once may have had either three or four storys. The luxurious apartment in the lower part consisted of twelve rooms; seven rooms were on the ground floor and five more on the first floor, with the reception rooms being about 6 meters high and the other rooms only 3 meters high. The house was built in Hadrianic times and remodeled in Severan times. However, it was probably still inhabited in the early Middle Ages. The murals (dipinti) that gave the house its name are now lost.
House of the Lararium
The House of the Lararium (Caseggiato del Larario), shrine of the household god, was built in brick around 120 CE. The ground floor is largely taken up by shops. These could be entered from the street and from a courtyard. Vestibules are present in the south and west facade. The layout has been compared to the oriental bazaar.
The house is named after a polychrome niche, called lararium by the excavators, a shrine of the household gods, the Lares Familiares. However, in this niche must have been one, fairly large statue of a deity. The niche could not be placed exactly opposite the southern entrance to the building, but it is as close to the axis as possible. It functions as a religious welcome to those who entered the shopping centre.
Insula of the Painted Ceiling
The Insula of the Painted Roof (Insula del Soffitto Dipinto), an apartment building, occupies the central part of a block from the Hadrianic era (circa 117-138 CE), used for both residential and commercial purposes. It developed on three or four storys, accessed from outside stairs. The house was reached from the street through a covered passage; it was arranged around a medianum (central vestibule) lit by tall windows, with the rooms opening onto it. Over time, the insula underwent transformations that involved the creation of small independent apartments. The painted decorations on the walls and one ceiling, still preserved in two rooms, may date to a renovation in the late second century CE; they reflect the refinedtaskte ofthe patrons of this period.
House of the Fishes
The House of the Fishes (Domus dei Pesci), has two main building phases, that have been dated to the middle and the last quarter of the third century CE. The house is named after a white mosaic with a polychrome panel; a chalice with a fish, and two fishes next to the stem of the chalice. These may well have been Christian symbols, an interpretation that is not universally accepted, however. The panel was seen properly when people left the building, which suggests that it was a farewell greeting for Christians who had met in the house. In the courtyard a small statue was found of Fortuna with cornucopiae.
The Garden Houses
The Garden House (Le Case Giardino) built in around 130 CE as part of a vast construction project, had a mainly residential function though they also included commercial and servicespaces. The complex sonsisted of an external rectable and two central symmetrical residential blocks separated by an arealaidout as a garden with six fountains. The buildings, at least three storys high, and accessed from the garden, had external staircases leading up to the apartments located on the upper floors generally designed from rental. The complex as functional and elegantas a modern luxry class in an area near the sea and not too distant from the city center.
House and Mithraeum of the Footprint
The Mithraeum of the Footprint (Caseggiato del Mitreo della Planta Pedis) was installed in a Hadrianic hall, between rows of piers of opus latericium and opus vittatum. The shrine had three naves. In the room to the east of the shrine are some basins and a well. In the west wall of this room is the main entrance of the shrine, on the east side of the central nave.
House of the Nymphaeum
The house or domus of the nymphaeum (Domus del Ninfeo), a wealthy domus (residence), was constructed in the second half of the fourth century CE, in an area previously occupied by two building complexes of the early second century CE. It was entered through a courtyard which provided lightto the residence,embellished with a marble nymphaeum decorated with niches, opening onto the courtyard through a tripartite aperture was a huge room decorated on the floor and walls with opus sectile inlays, also preserved in other rooms of the domusa porticoed corridor leads to the inner most rooms of the house. The facade overlooking the Decumanus is enhanced by the presence of a large vestibule, divided into two rooms, originally decorated with wall paintings showing scenes of rural life.
House of Bacchus and Ariadne
The House of Bacchus and Ariadne (Caseggiato di Bacco e Arianna) was built in the Hadrianic period (opus mixtum). The building was entered through a passage in the south part of the east facade. Here the road was spanned by four brick arches. Directly behind the entrance is a large courtyard with a basin in the centre. Originally a wide passage in the south-east corner led to the Temple of Serapis to the south. The building seems to have been related to the temple, like the House of the Serapeum further to the south. In the building the members of a religious guild related to Serapis (cultores) may have met and dined.
House of Diana
The House (casa) of Diana (Caseggiato di Diana) complex, perhaps originally four storys tall with shops facing onto the street, was built in the Hadrianic period (first half of the second century CE). It has a central porticoed courtyard and over time underwent significant alterations to both the internal walls and the floors. The black and white geometrical mosaics in some rooms, the polychrome mosaic on one side of the portico and the inlaid marble floor of the triclinium belong to the original phase. In the second half of the second century CE, the courtyard was embellished with a fine marble nymphaeum whilst the surviving paintings were made at the end of this century. During the third century CE, the floors were raised and new mosaics were laid. Finally, a mithraeum was installed in the innermost rooms at a later period; it had a shrine, a (reused) marble altar and podia (benches made of masonry).
House of the Thermopolium
The House of the Thermopolium (Caseggiato del Termopolio), used as an inn with a wine bar, was installed in the third century CE inside a complex of Hadrianic era (first half of the second century CE). It opened onto the street with threee entrances, provided with seats and covered by balconies resting on brackets. The interior was divided into three rooms; the middle one had a bar counter, shelves and basins for washing dishes made of marble. The still like paintings above the shelves show the foods served in the bar. One of the rooms, used as a kitched, had a dolium (large terracotta container) set into the ground for keeping food cool. The courtyard behind with a little fountain and masonry seating, allowed the patrons of the establishment to eat in the open.
House of the Fortuna Annonaria
The aristocratic domus House of the Fortuna Annonaria (Domus della Fortuna Annonaria), whose current appearancedates to the fourth century CE, was installed inside a house of the mid-second century CE of which it preserved theperistyle in the central courtyard. The entrance was monumentalized with a prothyrum (colonnaded entrance) that led into a vestibule. This in turn gave access to the large courtyard, against the back wall of which is a cast of the statue of a goddess identified as Fortuna Annonaria (the goddess of food supplies) or as a personification of Ostia. The main room was adorned with marble, a fountain and probably statues; the apse must have hosted the stibadium, the semi-circular triclinium couch on which meals were eaten. A privated room of the house was converted into a heated room andpaved with a mosaic depicting mythological scenes.
Seat of the Augustales
The Seat of the Augustales (Sede degli Augustali) is a building complex believed to the seat of some guild. The construction was first carried out in the ppus latericium style during the reign of Antoninus Pius of Marcus Aurelius. Known modificatons have been dated to the last three dacades of the third century CE, in the style of opus vittatum. The main entrance is through the northern facade, a marble porch leading to a vestibule, and a secondary entrance was through the eastern facade. The building is dominated by a large courtyard, surrounded by a porticus with brick piers. In the north-east corner is a transitional room, reached from the vestibule. The eastern part of the porticus is 6 meters wide, the other wings 3.50 meters. In the centre of the courtyard is a basin, originally revetted with marble, and with concave ends. In the south-west corner of the porticus is a well.
House of the Wrestlers
The House of the Wrestlers (Caseggiato dei Lottatori), from the layout of the building, has been identified as a seat of a guild. The guild has been suggested that of the wrestlers. It has been dated to the Hadrianic period (opus latericium). The building is centered around a courtyard with a large basin. The courtyard is surrounded by a porticus. Of the six columns of the porticus (only four of which can be seen on the plan) only the travertine bases have been preserved. In the north part is the vestibule, between the two shops. A drinking fountain was set against the east wall, now disappeared.
Nymphaeum on the Plaza of Victoria
The Nymphaeum on the Plaza of Victoria (Ninfeo su Piazzale della Vittoria) is located just inside the Porta Romana (Roman Gate), south of the decumanus.
Ground Water Management and Aqueduct of Tiberius
Until the first century CE, Ostia's water supply was guaranteed by rainwater, collected in cisterns, and by wells drawing on the ground water. The city's aqueduct was built under Tiberius (circa 37-41 CE). It ended at the reservoir adjacent to the walls south of the Porta Romana. From here the water was distributed throught the city by an extensive network of cisterns and lead pipes (fistulae), inscribed with the name of the colony or of the concessionaries. The water network supplied public and private buildings; however, ground water continued to be used, with water being drawn up using wooden water wheels (noriae). The aqueduct remained in use until the fifth century CE; after its abandonment, water was once again provided by wells, some of which were dug into the middle of the streets, by now also partially in disuse.
Nymphaeum of the Erotes
The Erotes Nymphaeum (Ninfeo degli Eroti), was built in the fourth century CE, takes the form of a single square room, closed and completely covered in marble panels, which provided a backdrop for the jets of water that gushed from a labrum (basin) set inside a central square pool. The side walls of the nymphaeum had two rectangular niches, each with a marble statue placed inside it. These were Roman copies of a type attributed to the Greek sculptor Lysippus depicting Eros stringing his bow and arenow in the Museo Ostiense, In the back wall was a semi-circular niche, perhaps adorned with a statue of Venus.
The main temple of Ostia (), dedicated to the Capitoline triade (Jupiter, Juno, Minerva) was built on the north side of the Forum during the Hadrianic period, in around 120 CE. It stands abouve an earlier cult building dating to the first century BCE, probably dedicated to the same gods and located where the cardo intersect the decumanus. The first century BCE temple was in turn built on top of an older public building, remains of which can be seen in a test pit in the forum square. The Hadrianic Capitolium visible today, erected on a high podium, was built entirely of brick and faced in marble (no longer survives). The cella,preceded by a porch with six columns along the front and two at the sides, has a monumental marble theshold at the entrance; inside, the statues of the three gods originally stood on the podium set against the back wall.
Mithraeum of Snakes
The Mithraeum of Snakes (Mitreo di Serpenti), was a cult space dedicated to the eastern god Mithras. It was installed in the second half of the third century CE inside an earlier complex with shops. One of the back rooms of a shop was transformed into a cult space where the podia (side benches) and a small altar were madefrom the reused building materials. The mithraeum retained the painted decorations of the preceding phase (circa second century CE), probably belonging to a lararium (shrine of the household gods), depictingtwo snakes, a male identified by a crest anda female, on either side of a Genius with a veiled head anda cornucopia inhishandto symbolize abundance. Since they were connected to the earth, snakesalsoplayed an important role inMithraic religion.
Mithraeum of the Delighted
The cult-place of Mithraeum of the Delighted or the Happy One (Mitreo di Felicissimo), dedicated to the eastern god Mithras was installed in an earlier building of uncertain function in the second half of the third century CE. Originally equipped with two podia (benches) and an altar (no longer survives), it has a mosaic floor depicting a krater (vessel) and an altar with a flame, alluding to the use of water and fire in the rituals. Above these are twoPhrygian caps, recognizable from their characteristic shape. Themosaic in the corridor is divided into seven compartments referring to the seven degrees ofinitiation into the cult and seven planets connected to them with their specific ritual objects. In the eighth compartment is an inscription naming the worshipper (Felicissimus) who built the mithraeum, which must originally have been similar in appearance to the other mithraea in Ostia.
Temple of Ceres or the Divinized Emperors
The temple of godess Ceres (Tempio di Cerere o degli Imperatori Divinizzati)
The "shelf" of the Synagoge (Mensola della Sinagoga), a marble corbel, is one of the two that originally decorated the Jewish shrine in Ostia's synagogue holding the ark in which the scrolls of the law (Torah) were kept. The construction of this shrine is mentioned by a Greek inscription commemorating an individual who paid for a container to hold the sacred scrolls. The corbel presents a relief image of the seven-armed candelabrum (menorah), accompanied by a ram's horn (shofar), a bundle of three species of plant (palm, myrtle and willow) and a citron fruit, important symbols of the Jewish faith that alludeto worship at the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Fountain with Lamp (Fontana con Lucerna), a fine marble fountain, stood along the Decumanus in front of the long porticobuilt in the Hadrianic period (circa 117-138CE) to monumentalize the street. There was probably already a basin lined with hydraulic plaster on this spot from the Augustanperiod (late first century BCE to early first century CE); the fountain was raised in the Hadrianic period to match the new street level and lined with marble in thethird century CE. Thefountain took the form of a basin decorated with a screen and completely covered in marble, with columns that may have supported a pergola. At the centre of the basin was a little pillar whose top was shaped like and oil lamp from which water gushed forth.
The Republican era fortress (Castrum Repubblicano) is the oldest part of the city of Ostia to be documented archaeologically; it dates to the fourth century BCE. It is a fortified settlement surrounded by walls in tufa blocks with four gates, located at the ends of the main streets (the cardo and decumanus). Other streets at therightangles subdivided the internal space into plots of regular shape occupied by temples, public buildings and especially houses. ALready in the third century BCE,the settlement stretched outside the walls, which had lost their original defensive function; Rome's expansion the Mediterranean had gradually reduced the city's military role and simultaneously increased its commercial vocation.
Sanctuary of the Augusti
The so called sanctuary of the divinity of the Augusti (Sacello dei Lares Augusti), a circular monument, stands at the centre of the Forum square and is traditionally interpreted as the "Shrine of the Lares Augusti" (the gods who protected the emperor). The identification is based on the attribution to this monument of an inscription, not found in sity, commemorating the construct of a temple dedicated to thiscult around the mid first century CE. Another theory identifies the monument as a nymphaeum, in part based on the presence of an internal coating of hydraulic lime.