Reconstructing Life in Ostia along the Decumanus
Ostia ReLOADed is the archaeological excavation of the OsTIUM project.
Since 2019, the Université catholique de Louvain (Prof. Marco Cavalieri, Dr. Martina Marano, Dr. Paolo Tomassini) and the Université de Namur (Prof. Julian Richard) have been carrying out documentation, survey and archaeological excavation activities at the site of Ostia antica, aiming to study and uncover the remains of one of the largest houses in the city, the Domus del Portico di Tufo.
Located along Ostia's main shopping street, the decumanus maximus, the house was built between the late 1st century BC and the early 1st century AD. Its remains are now completely buried, the house having been replaced in the early 2nd century AD by a multi-storey commercial complex. The modern name of the house derives from the portico with tuff columns that adorns its façade and is located along the decumanus maximus. The excavations revealed, among other things, the fauces of the house, i.e. the narrow access corridor, covered by a white mortar floor decorated with black tesserae, as well as the atrium with a white marble basin (impluvium) in the centre where rainwater was collected. The water entered the room through an opening in the roof (compluvium) which was supported by four large columns of which only the bases remain today. Part of the tablinum has also been brought to light. This passageway between the atrium and the peristyle, which was a sort of "office" for the master of the house, was decorated with a precious marble paving (opus sectile). Behind this room is a part of the peristyle structure, which has not yet been excavated, but which seems to have had monumental dimensions. The UCLouvain-UNamur excavation project in Ostia is based on interdisciplinary archaeology, taking advantage of the most recent technological advances and integrating several methods and skills. We use photogrammetry, 3D modelling, laser scanning and drone surveys to study and understand the ancient architecture, but also physical and chemical analyses to identify the raw materials used for the construction of the walls (mortars, cement, bricks) and for the decorative elements.
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