Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsGRAEME EARL: This week we've put Portus in context. We've seen its location, had a first look at its appearance and layout, and learned a bit about its history. Most of all, we've learned that it was built on a truly monumental scale. And therefore, it's a bit difficult to grasp at first. Don't worry, we'll keep looking at the plans and aerial photographs each week. And by the end, it'll feel very familiar to you. We've also seen that Portus was at the heart of a complex series of networks spanning the Roman Mediterranean. And we've looked at evidence for these connections from ceramic transportation vessels, amphora stamps, and residue analysis.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsSimon went through the history of work at Portus, and Dragana compared the ways in which we work today to those earlier antiquarian activities. We thought about how archaeology is interdisciplinary, including the role of texts and a range of scientific approaches. On our timeline of the port, we started with the Emperor Claudius who first established it. We looked at his enormous harbour with its great concrete quays that originally extended far out from the coast into the Tyrrhenian sea, and marvelled at the great Pharos, a lighthouse built to rival that at Alexandria.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsIn addition to the Claudian harbour, we thought about the port infrastructure from this period, including the beautiful Portico di Claudio that once provided a monumental backdrop that announced the power of Rome to those travelling to the metropolis by sea. Next week we'll see how the port was transformed by the boundless wealth of another Emperor, Marcus Ulpius Traianus, better known as Trajan, who came from a provincial background to become one of the greatest Roman soldier emperors.

Summary of the week

So, you’ve made it to the end of Week 1 – well done! If you have any time left perhaps have a look back at the various links, for example our Flickr site where we have collections of images relating to the buildings, finds and methods discussed each week.

As I mentioned in the video, next week we will learn about the transformation of Portus by the Emperor Trajan. See you then. In the interim, please keep posting your questions and comments.

Your notes from Week 1

It’s up to you whether and how you make notes to help your learning. But each week I will give you a few pointers. Here are my suggestions for this week:

  • Print out the Glossary. If you keep referring back to this it will help you to get to grips with the terms. We use Italian and English terms on this course in the same way as we do in publications and on our website, because these are the ones used by the wider research community.
  • If you have queries about the Glossary or you want to add extra information then please post comments on the glossary page.
  • For items shown on the maps we have also listed their map number next to their entry on the Glossary.
  • Start drawing your own timeline for Portus. Making your own is the best way to keep track of dates. Maybe share a picture of your timeline on social media?
  • Print out the map of Portus in the Claudian period and make your annotations on that. I have provided a link to this below.
  • We also suggest that you use this Summary of the Week step each week to post more general requests for information or reporting any problems e.g. broken links, problems with illustrations. We check all the steps but the number of comments means it can be a while before we find these more general requests.

See you next week,


[Extra] Week One blog posts

At the end of each run of this course we capture additional video and other materials on site, in the lab or in the studio to respond to questions raised about each week. You might like to follow the link below to the Week One Blog Posts that bring many of these together. Remember that they may relate to different versions of the course.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome

University of Southampton

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: