We’ve seen from Simon’s video that the large amounts of marble at the site remind us that it was a key entry point for these high value commodities from across the Mediterranean, North Africa, the east coast of Spain, Egypt, Asia Minor and Greece.
This must have been a key focus of activity throughout the 2nd and earlier 3rd centuries AD when Rome was embellished with new public buildings by a succession of emperors keen to legitimize themselves with major building programmes. We can also see the extensive use of marble in Ostia in public structures such as the Forum baths, constructed at the end of the 2nd century AD.
Giallo Antico is a beautiful variety of the marble that was imported from Tunisia, stored here and then used in great monuments such as the Forum of Trajan in Rome. Egyptian Porphyry was another beautiful marble, this time purple. The University of Southampton has done extensive work at the quarries known as Mons Porphyrites in the Eastern Egyptian Desert.
Sample of Egyptian Porphyry from Mons Porphyrites – Dragana Mladenović © University of Southampton
We also worked at Mons Claudianus, the source of Granodiorite used extensively in Rome before, during and after our current focus of the later second century AD. We also excavated at nearby Myos Hormos, a Red Sea port that linked the Rome to India via the Nile and a tortuous desert crossing.
The statio marmorum
(marble yards) at Portus may also have been used for the re-distribution of marble into the Mediterranean from eastern quarries to such port cities as Leptis Magna, in Tripolitania (eastern Libya). There may even have been sarcophagus workshops here too.
Have a look at the Glossary and search online to learn more about the statio marmorum at Portus, which were located on the south side of the Canale di Fiumicino
and the north side of the Isola Sacra
. Large pieces of semi-worked and uncut marble found here in the late 19th c. are now on display close to the Museo Ostiense at Ostia Antica. The Glossary will also provide you with information about the statio marmorum at Rome itself, which was situated on the east bank of the Tiber near Monte Testaccio.