Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsGRAEME EARL: This week was all about excavation and about understanding Portus in the third and fourth centuries. Simon told us about the crisis across the Roman Empire. We, also, learned about the efforts of Aurelian and others to try to protect Rome and other towns. Later in the fourth century, we heard about the establishment of Constantinople and the gradual disintegration of the Roman Empire. We also saw religious transformation and a resurgence of commercial activities. Portus still continued to serve Rome as its maritime port, became a civitas, or town, in its own right, in around AD 337. Further more, contemporary imperial legal documents continue to refer to intense commercial activity at the port.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 secondsThis is borne out by the large volume of imported ceramics on the excavations and the continued use of warehouses. Dragana, Kris, and our students gave you an idea of the practicalities and theories behind excavation, including the key term stratigraphy. We thought about the need to document everything we do because, of course, excavation destroys as much as it creates. Here, we learned about laser scanning from James and about other surveying methods, like drone photography, from Steve. In terms of the major buildings, we were shown around the enigmatic Building 5, the possible ship shed that was around 240 metres long and probably stood to more than 18 metres in height.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 secondsWhilst the building had its origins in the second century, we studied its transformation in later periods. Finally, we looked at some finds that give us an idea about the use of the building, copper tax, potentially associated with ships, and the coins that are so vital in dating our excavated contexts. Now, we've started to dig, so it's time to think about next week. That will be all about finds and what the finds can tell us about the people of Portus.

Summary of the week

In the picture behind me you can see the laser scanning in progress on site. I hope you enjoyed looking at the video demonstrating the kinds of results this machine produces. But of course you also know that without meticulous excavation there would be nothing useful to record.

Now we have started to dig it’s time to think about next week – that will be all about the finds, and what the finds can tell us about the people of Portus. See you then.

Graeme

[Extra] Week 4 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 Four Blog Posts that bring many of these together. Remember that they may relate to different versions of the course.

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Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome

University of Southampton

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