• University of Southampton

Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome

Learn how ancient artefacts, written evidence, excavation and digital technologies are transforming understanding of this harbour.

30,710 enrolled on this course

Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome
  • Duration6 weeks
  • Weekly study4 hours

The harbour city of Portus was the conduit for everything that Rome required from its Mediterranean provinces: foods and grain, luxuries of all kinds, building materials, people and wild animals for the arena. Largely filmed on location at Portus, you will learn to interpret the archaeological discoveries and what they tell us about the history, landscape, buildings, and people of this unique place. You will also gain insight into the wide range of digital technologies employed to record, analyse and present the site and some of the best-preserved Roman port buildings in the Mediterranean.

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What topics will you cover?

  • The archaeological site of Portus and the surrounding area, in terms of its historical context, related written records, and its archaeological and architectural data.
  • Archaeology at multiple scales, from the Roman Empire, via the Roman Mediterranean, landscapes, the port, individual buildings and unique artefacts.
  • The Roman people who lived, worked and died at the site.
  • The range of multidisciplinary methods and theories that are in place at Portus, including techniques, data, values, and ethics.
  • The uses and implications of a range of the archaeological digital techniques in use at Portus, to record, analyse, interpret and present the site.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Collaborate with others to explain and summarise information and ideas relating to Portus.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of key archaeological terms such as "context" and "stratigraphy".
  • Describe your own imagined Portus.
  • Identify key locations at Portus.
  • Describe the archaeology of the Tiber delta and its relationship to Rome and the Roman World.
  • Explain archaeological field techniques and site recording methods in terms of their context of use and potential results, and their role in understanding Portus.
  • Compare and contrast Portus at different stages in its history.
  • Plan your ideal visit to Portus in order to tell part of the site’s history.
  • Visualize the harbour at different periods of time and from different perspectives.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the archaeological approaches used at Portus by reference to your own knowledge and surroundings.
  • Explain and illustrate your ideas and understanding of Portus by reference to examples, in a way that others can understand.

Who is the course for?

We would like students who are fascinated by archaeology and history. The course will also appeal to students with an interest in technologies such as digital photography. No previous knowledge is required or assumed.

Who will you learn with?

I am Director of the Portus Project the ERC Advanced Grant funded Portuslimen Project on Roman Mediterranean ports (RoMP); I am alsoAssociate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Humanities.

I am a Professor of Digital Humanities at King's College London and an educator on the @UoSFLPortus course



I am a Roman archaeologist, a lecturer at the University of Southampton, Associate Director of the Portus Project and the Director of the Portus Field School.

Who developed the course?

University of Southampton

Southampton is a place for ambitious people keen to stretch their intellectual abilities and help change the world.

Get a taste of this course

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