SIMON KEAY: As you can see, we’re currently standing in the remains of a very large Roman public building in Portus. You have to imagine that in antiquity, what we’re standing in was essentially a corridor, onto which opened a whole series of storage rooms. And you can see these arched openings behind me, which led into storage rooms in which was kept a whole range of commodities that had been unloaded from ships that had come from across the Roman world.
In addition to that, you can see that there’s another wall here on my right, which was actually a series of piers with doorways in them which would have led out onto a large esplanade, which in turn was fronted by a major canal which led from the Claudian basin through into the Trajanic basin. So it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to paint a picture of how Portus might have been at this time. We have here a major building, two storeys in fact, into which cargoes would have come quite possibly from southern Spain, the Roman province of Baetica, possibly North Africa, modern Libya, ancient Tripolitania, modern Tunisia, Africa Proconsularis, or indeed from Egypt.
Or indeed from different parts of the eastern Mediterranean.
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