Store Buildings of Ancient Ostia
Horrea Epagathiana, Ostia Antica / Wikimedia Commons
Impression of the unloading of a ship. / Misurare la Terra, Modena 1986, p. 167.
Fairly detailed descriptions and interpretations of the Ostian store buildings (horrea) were produced by Rickman (1971). Some can be identified through the presence of large storage-jars, or raised floors (suspensurae) meant to protect grain from damp and overheating. Lanciani reports that in the central-north part of the city “floors of the storehouses have been found still covered with a layer of grain which, on being brought into contact with the air, tumbled into dust” (Notes from Rome, 15 ). In one case the name Horrea is recorded in an inscription in the facade (Horrea Epagathiana et Epaphroditiana). Other buildings can be identified as store buildings on the basis of their resemblance to these buildings. A special category are the buildings with dolia defossa, huge, buried jars, in which wine or olive-oil was stored.
The store buildings are all from the Imperial period, most of them from the first half of the second century, while some date back to the first century. There is a relation with the work of Trajan in Portus, possibly also with that of Claudius. In the store buildings one alteration from the second half of the third century has been traced, and very few activities are documented in late antiquity.
Characteristic for the appearance are buttressing, thick walls, few entrances, slit-windows high up in the outer walls, special locking devices, long rows of rooms (cellae), and ramps leading to the first floor. Rickman distinguishes two kinds of lay-out: cellae around a courtyard with portico or colonnade; cellae along a corridor. The Horrea Epagathiana et Epaphroditiana have an axial lay-out, consisting of two vestibules, a courtyard, and an accentuated room. The axis was emphasized by the mosaic of the courtyard: behind the vestibule is a panel as wide as the vestibule with the depiction of a tiger, meant to be seen from the vestibule; behind is a large panel with meanders and a swastika; in front of the accentuated room is a panel as wide as the room with a depiction of a panther, meant to be seen from the room.
The size varies from quite small to very large. Most of the large horrea are, for obvious reasons, situated to the north of the Decumanus Maximus and Via della Foce, that is along the Tiber, and the main entrance of most of these is turned towards the river. Most of the smaller ones are to the south of the Decumanus and Via della Foce. Concentrations are found to the northwest of the Forum, and to the south of the eastern Decumanus. Store buildings have also been identified in the Ostian Trastevere
Both the number and size of the store buildings show, that they did not serve Ostia alone. They held reserves for Rome, even after the construction of Portus. Smaller horrea south of the Decumanus and Via della Foce, and perhaps others, served the local market. The Grandi Horrea were probably owned by the Emperor, and part of the grain stored there was taken to the bakery in the Caseggiato dei Molini, a bakery most likely working for the Emperor. Horrea I,VIII,3 were a non-Imperial investment, as is shown by an inscription in its facade: Horrea Epagathiana et Epaphroditiana, Epagathus and Epaphroditus being two freedmen. How many store buildings were the property of the Emperor, and in which period, cannot be said.
The workers in the Imperial store buildings may well have been Imperial slaves and freedmen. As Rickman has remarked, “it is a remarkable fact that among the mass of Ostian inscriptions there is no reference to the workers and managers of horrea“. Some data from outside Ostia is available however, largely from Rome from Imperial horrea. Here slaves and freedmen only are documented, many of them Imperial. It is not known whether the workers in horrea usually lived in the building, or elsewhere.
Horrea for grain – light blue; dolia defossa – dark blue; other store buildings – yellow; bakeries – purple; isolated finds of millstones and kneading-machines – green circles
Caseggiato dei Doli
Regio I – Insula IV – (I,IV,5)
Plan of the building. After SO I.
This building was erected in the late-Hadrianic or early-Antonine period (opus mixtum). In the Severan period some modifications took place (opus latericium), and 35 dolia defossa (buried jars) were installed for storing wine or olive-oil. The building was excavated partially in the early 20th century by Pasqui.
Inscriptions on the rim of the jars indicate the volume, on average 40 amphorae, that is c. 1040 liters. In the dolia the remains of at least 400 terracotta moulds were found. After the moulds had been dumped, the dolia were covered with a rough pavement. The moulds consisted of two parts. With the moulds semicircular objects were made approximately the size of a hand. The objects all had the same weight. A relief was stamped on either side of or around the objects. Depicted were animals, scenes in the theatre, amphitheatre and circus, erotic and mythological scenes, and still lives. Similar moulds have been found in the western half of North Africa, on the east coast of Spain, in the south and east of France, in Italy, perhaps in Austria, and in Greece. They are all remarkably similar, were possibly made in North Africa, and are to be dated to the late second and first half of the third century AD.
It is significant that the objects that were made with the moulds have never been found. Obviously they were of perishable material. Pasqui suggests that the Ostian moulds were used to make “dolciumi”, weighing one pound, in a nearby bakery. He points out that among the other finds in the building were many fragments of theatre masks, lamps, many amphorae, and small beakers. In his view we should think of the distribution of crustulum et mulsum at the occasion of epula publica and ludi. This interpretation was rejected by Floriani Squarciapino, who maintains that the reliefs are too detailed for pastry, points out that the moulds are not baked well, and that all known moulds for pastry are of a different nature. She thinks of terracotta or wax ex voto’s or souvenirs. Salomonson rightly criticizes the idea of ex voto’s: amongst the reliefs no religious scenes or deities are found. The relief on a mould from Marseilles was found again on a coin struck for the Decennalia of Septimius Severus in 202 AD, which leads Salomonson to the suggestion that the objects were presents (missilia), possibly edible, related to these festivities.
In the 1990’s remains of dolia defossa were found nearby, in a small trench near the museum. From the pottery that was found could be deduced, that this building was in use until the early fifth century.
Left: The dolia seen from the north-west. Photograph: Melissa Sellers.
Right: An inscription on the rim of one of the dolia. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Dolia near the museum. Photograph: / Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: A mould with a theatrical scene, perhaps from Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Aulis. / Descoeudres 2001, p. 423.
Center: A mould with a victorious charioteer. / Descoeudres 2001, p. 423.
Right: A mould with a mythological combat scene (Eteocles and Polinices?). / Descoeudres 2001, p. 423.
Regio I – Insula VIII – (I,VIII,1)
Plan of the store building. After SO I.
The Small Market is in reality a store building, built c. 120 AD (opus mixtum). In the north-east part some Severan restorations can be found (opus latericium). Part of the Castrum-wall is preserved in the south wall. The building was excavated in the early 1870’s by Pietro Rosa. To the east is the Via Tecta, an alley that originally had a roof, in which many inscriptions from Ostia are now stored.
The main entrance is in the north part. It is flanked by shops and staircases behind a deep, brick porticus. The interior is arranged around two rectangular courtyards, surrounded by a portico with brick piers. The south-eastern corner pier was damaged by an earthquake (rotation around the vertical axis; Galadini – Hinsen – Stiros 2006). The courtyards are separated by a passage, the roof of which was supported by four large piers. At some point in time a low balustrade (opus reticulatum) was built between the smaller piers. The courtyards and portico had a floor of opus spicatum. In the courtyards are tufa gutters. The porticus had a gabled roof. In the south-west part of the porticus is a relief of a snake, on which some red paint has been preserved. The snake represents the Genius Loci, the “Spirit of the Place” (the original has been replaced by a copy).
To the west, south and east of the courtyards are 28 rooms. They were closed off with two doors, witness the thresholds. Above the doors were square windows and in the back walls slit windows, for light and ventilation. The rooms were c. 7 metres high and covered by barrel vaults.
In the north-west and south-east corners are two staircases. The lower part is of travertine steps, the remainder was a sloping ramp, covered with opus spicatum.
In the south-east corner is a secondary entrance. In the central south room is a doorway leading to a row of rooms to the south. It is not clear whether these rooms belonged to the building.
It is not clear what goods were stored here.
Left: The Via Tecta to the east of the building, seen from the south. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: General view from the north-east. The east half of the building is used as magazzino by the Soprintendenza. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: The original relief of the Genius Loci. The head is in the upper left part. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The staircase to the north-west of the courtyard, seen from the east. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: The south-eastern corner pier of the porticus, with earthquake damage. / Photograph: Antonia Arnoldus.
Right: Another detail of the earthquake damage. / Photograph: Antonia Arnoldus.
This phenomenon is illustrated by a chimney in Poggio Roio, which rotated as a consequence of the L’Aquila (Italy) earthquake of 2009. / Photograph: courtesy Giampiero Gabrielli.
Regio I – Insula VIII – I,VIII,2
Plan of the store building. After SO I.
This store building was built c. 119-120 AD (opus mixtum). It was excavated in 1938, but the south part not to the second century floor level. To the east is a narrow alley (1.20 wide) with a gutter, separating the building from the Piccolo Mercato (I,VIII,1). The northern part of the north-east wall is made of opus quadratum, presumably the remains of an earlier building.
The main entrance is in the north part, between five shops. The outer threshold of the vestibule is smooth, so there were no doors here. The inner threshold supported two doors. To the south-west and south-east of the entrance are two staircases. The interior is arranged around a long, narrow courtyard, surrounded by a porticus with brick piers. Between the piers are low balustrades (opus reticulatum). The courtyard had a floor of opus spicatum. The porticus is at varying levels, and had a floor of marble and travertine fragments, and of bipedales.
The rooms around the courtyard have raised floors of bipedales, supported by low walls. Air was let in through holes in the thesholds. Such floors protected the goods that were stored here (most likely grain) from moisture. The raised floors do not belong to the original building phase.
There are extensive remains of plaster with red paint. A third staircase is in the south part of the building.
In one of the rooms on the western side a mediaeval lime-kiln was found.
Left: The interior, seen from the south-west. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Center: Rooms along the east side, seen from the south-west. Note the holes in the thresholds. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The room in the northeast corner, seen from the west. Note the wall of opus quadratum. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Horrea Epagathiana et Epaphroditiana
Regio I – Insula VIII – (I,VIII,3)
Plan of the store building. After SO I.
This is the only building in Ostia of which it is absolutely certain that it was a store building: above the entrance is an inscription on a marble slab with the words:
HORREA EPAGATHIANA ET EPAPHRODITIANA
The store building (horrea) was owned by two freedmen, Epagathus and Epaphroditus. It can be dated to c. 145-150 AD (opus latericium). In the south wall part of the Castrum-wall was reused. The building was excavated and restored extensively in the years 1922-1923 and 1938-1940. Collapsed walls and piers were found on top of a layer of sherds and beaten earth, c. 0.70 high. The building was plundered, witness holes in the vaults and higher parts of the walls.
In the south-west part of the building is a row of shops. In the northernmost shop are the remains of a cult-niche, that had an aedicula-facade. The main entrance to the building is to the north of this shop. The door is decorated by brick columns with capitals, an architrave (with the inscription) and a pediment. Behind the door is a double vestibule. In the lateral walls of the second vestibule are two niches for a statue of a deity.
The doors of the vestibules, but also of the rooms and staircases in the interior, were barred with wooden beams, in the vestibules both on the in- and outside. The beams were inserted in a square and an L-shaped hole, in travertine blocks: in one doorjamb is a simple squared hole opposite a more complex squared hole. The second hole has a groove running to it from the side and a further smaller slot within it, running deeper into the doorpost. The bar, having been lodged in the one hole, is slid along the groove into the opposite hole and there secured by sliding a bolt home into the smaller slot and securing it, probably by a padlock.
Locking devices. / Rickman 1971, fig. 5.
In the interior is a square courtyard, surrounded by a porticus with brick piers. On all four sides of the courtyard are rooms of varying size. The rooms are covered by cross-vaults. A long room in the south-west part, with a door leading to a shop, is partly covered by a barrel-vault. There are remains of white plaster. In the centre of the east side of the courtyard are two niches, identical to the ones in the second vestibule. They flank the entrance to a deep room, perhaps an office.
On the floor of the courtyard is a black-and-white mosaic with meanders, a swastika, a panther at the west end – resting with one paw on what seems to be part of a prey – , and a tiger at the east end. The panther was meant to be seen from the entrance, the tiger from the “office”. The mosaic belongs to the first building phase. The figurative panels, the slightly eccentric position of the “office” and the oblique walls of the vestibules testify to a very conscious attempt to create a visual axis in the building.
In the north-west and south-west part of the building are staircases. The lay-out of the first floor was similar to that of the ground floor.
The many locking devices suggest that valuable goods were stored here. It is also possible, that private people could hire one or more rooms, to store valuable goods.
Left: The courtyard at the start of the excavation. / Becatti 1941, fig. 4.
Right: The collapsed piers of the courtyard. / Becatti 1941, fig. 5.
Left: The collapsed south wall. / Becatti 1941, fig. 6.
Right: The restoration of the west facade. / Becatti 1941, fig. 7.
Left: The main entrance seen from the south-west. / Photograph: Bill Storage.
Right: The courtyard seen from the north-west. / Photograph: Sopr. Arch. di Ostia, A 2456.
Left: The mosaic in the courtyard: panther. SO IV, Tav. XCII.
Right: The mosaic in the courtyard: tiger. SO IV, Tav. XCII.
The niches in the courtyard. / Photograph: Bill Storage.
Regio I – Insula XIII – I,XIII,1
Plan of the store building. / After SO I.
A small store building, late-Trajanic or Hadrianic (opus mixtum). It is located near a fuillonica and a bakery. On either side of a long corridor are five rooms. A further room is at the end of the corridor. The corridor has a floor of opus spicatum, with a travertine slab with a drainage hole, suggesting that there was no roof. The doors of the rooms are 1.40-1.50 wide and have travertine thresholds with pivot-holes. In one room the back wall is sufficiently well preserved to show the lower half of one splayed slit window. Originally a door in the back wall of one of the south rooms led to the building to the south. In the same room, opposite this door, was another door leading to the central corridor. Both were blocked. The masonry of the corridor walls is of excellent quality. Inside the rooms the quality is lower, and here plaster has been preserved.
The corridor seen from the east. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Caseggiato dei Doli
Regio I – Insula XIX – I,XIX
This building was excavated in 1783. It was seen by Carcopino in the first decade of the twentieth century. It is now filled with earth. Carcopino has dated its latericium and mixtum to the first half of the second century AD.
Plan of the building. From Carcopino 1909, Pl. XX-XXI.
In the centre of the building is a north-south running corridor (IV; 25 x 4 metres), ending at the Tiber, that has invaded the building. In the north part of the corridor are features II and III, called niches by Carcopino. To the south of the corridor is staircase b, to the east are rooms V-VIII, perhaps shops.
To the west of the corridor is area I (23 x 8 metres). with 22 buried storage jars (dolia defossa) for wine or olive oil. On ten jars are graffiti of numbers, indicating the capacity in amphorae (one amphora = 26 1/4 litres). On average the jars contained 33 amphorae. Therefore the 22 jars could contain 19 thousand litres.
Near this building two mosaics were found. A mosaic with a gorgoneion is now reportedly in a museum in Lisbon, Portugal. The other mosaic (black-and-white) has a depiction of Mars and Rhea Silvia, in a well-known scheme. Mars is descending from the sky. He is naked apart from a mantle around the upper part of his body. He is wearing a helmet and holds a lance. He is about to impregnate Rhea Silvia, the daughter of Numitor, king of Alba Longa. She is depicted in the lower part of the mosaic, where she is lying on the ground between two trees. She is sleeping and her head is resting on an amphora from which water flows. Rhea Silvia would become the mother of the twins Romulus and Remus. This mosaic is now in the Palazzo Altieri in Rome.
Left: Drawing of the room with the dolia defossa, seen from the north-east. / From Lanciani, Pagan and Christian Rome, chapter 2.
Right: The room with the dolia defossa, seen from the north-east. / From Carcopino 1929, p. 52.
Left: The room with the dolia defossa, seen from the north-west. / From H.W. Johnston, The Private Life of the Romans, 1903, fig. 172.
Right: The room with the dolia defossa, seen from the south-west. / Museo della Civiltà Romana. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
The mosaic of Mars and Rhea Silvia. / From SO IV, Tav. CV.
Horrea to the east of the Palazzo Imperiale
In 2000 geophysical research, conducted by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome (directed by M. Heinzelmann), led to the discovery of large horrea to the east of the Palazzo Imperiale. They were built in the second century AD.
The west part of regions I and III with new discoveries, resulting from the geophysical research by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. Numbers indicate trenches. The horrea are at number 22. / Plan: Michael Heinzelmann.
Regio II – Insula II – (II,II,7)
This is a huge store-building for grain. It has been dated to the reign of Commodus. Only the south-east part has been excavated completely, but after the excavation it was covered with earth again. Around a courtyard runs a portico. The main entrance was in the north part, from the Tiber quays. Strong buttresses reinforced the south wall. To the east is a row of rooms, back-to-back (a lay-out that is often found in Portus). The floors of these rooms are raised. One of the rooms contains a mediaeval lime-kiln.
The building is in many respects similar to the Commodan phase of the Grandi Horrea (II,IX,7). There can be little doubt that it was owned by the Emperor.
Plan of the Horrea. / After SO I.
Regio II – Insula IX – (II,IX,7)
Bukowiecki – Rousse 2007, fig. 39
The poor state of preservation of the Great Store Building is in sharp contrast with its importance. Many of the large tufa blocks from the outer west and east wall were reused in the Casone del Sale – the present museum -, perhaps built during the 15th century. Two lime-kilns were found in the building. The east facade was unearthed by Lanciani in 1885-1886, most of the building was excavated by Calza at the end of the First World War.
Left: First phase (Claudius). / Rickman 1971, fig. 11.
Center: Second phase (Nero – Commodus). / Rickman 1971, fig. 12.
Right: Final phase (Severan and later). / From Rickman 1971, fig. 10.
Work on the Grandi Horrea was begun during the reign of Claudius. The building was accessed from the north, that is from the Tiber quays. At the north end was a porticus of tufa columns, resting on travertine bases. The west and east wall were made of large tufa blocks (h. 0.53-0.66, w. 0.59) with an intentionally rough surface (opus quadratum / opus rusticum). This building technique was chosen either to give the building an impressive appearance, or to safeguard it from fires. The back (south) wall was made of latericium. All inner rooms (cellae) were rebuilt later. They were arranged around a U-shaped courtyard, surrounded by tufa columns with doric, travertine capitals. The floors were made of opus signinum. The original building had no staircases and no upper floors.
During the reign of Nero or shortly afterwards long rows of rooms were added to the east and south. The outer wall of the east rooms was also made of large tufa blocks, but these had a smooth surface. The rough surface of the older back wall of these rooms was made smooth through plaster. The walls between the rooms were built in latericium. The rooms had a mezzanine floor. In the centre of the row is a staircase. In front of the row was a porticus of travertine columns.
The walls of the south row are in latericium. These rooms too had mezzanine floors, and the porticus in front of the east rooms continued in front of the south rooms. Between the south rooms are three staircases with travertine treads. The travertine thresholds of these rooms are rather enigmatic. It seems that, originally, they were smooth, suggesting that the rooms had no doors. At some point in time a depression for a door was hacked out in the centre. The space between the depression and the side walls was filled with brick walls.
During the reign of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus many rooms were rebuilt in latericium. Suspensurae (raised floors) were added, to protect the goods that were stored from vermin and moisture. At least one floor was added, witness four staircases, with travertine steps, in the corners of the interior.
The north part of the building was raised and rebuilt, with suspensurae, under Septimius Severus and in the later Severan period. From now on the building had only one, narrow entrance, in the centre of the north wall. The two northern staircases were replaced by staircases of eight treads followed by a sloping ramp, in order to facilitate the carrying of goods by porters. In the north-east part a cult niche was installed.
Supporting bricks piers and arches were set against the outer south wall. On Via dei Molini – the road to the west – five arches, spanning the road, were added. Between these arches two small rooms were set against the west wall of the building. In these rooms the lower part of two staircases was found: two treads and a landing, the latter to support a ladder. The ladders cannot have been used for transporting goods. Ladders are not suited for porters carrying loads. Because there are two ladders, many people were expected to use them. Possibly this was a fire escape: after the rebuilding in the Severan period the building had only one, narrow exit.
Various other modifications cannot be dated accurately:
– the installation of a large water-basin in the south-east part of the U-shaped courtyard
– the blocking of the colonnades in the interior, and in front of the east and south rooms (opus latericium and reticulatum)
– the erection of brick piers in the south-east part of the courtyard
– the destruction of the rooms inside the U-shaped courtyard
– the installation of floors of basalt blocks in some of the east rooms, and in the porticus in front of these rooms.
A group of coins found below a collapsed wall in the north part indicates, that the building was no longer in use at the end of the fourth century.
This very large depot has always attracted much attention. Citing Rickman: “Its size, complexity and solidity, and not least its position, all indicate that the Grandi Horrea was a publicly owned storehouse, and the presence of suspensurae, at least from the middle of the second century, would indicate that perishable foodstuff, probably grain, was stored in it.” According to Hermansen the ground floor of the original building alone could hold 5.660 to 6.960 metric tons of grain. If we assume that one person needed five measures (modii) of grain per month, then the building would have contained grain for one year for 14.000 to 17.300 persons. After the addition of an extra floor the number must have been much larger (but if the building contained reserves for one year, the number must be halved).
The north part of the interior, from the south-west. The trees in the background follow the ancient course of the Tiber. Today they line a modern road leading from the ticket office to the museum. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: The east facade, from the south-east. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The south-east corner, from the south-east. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: The cult niche in the north-east part. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: Detail of a threshold with holes of the suspensurae. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Regio III – Insula II – III,II,6
Plan of the building. / After SO I.
This store building has been dated to the Trajanic period (opus reticulatum with quoining in small tufa blocks). Some later opus latericium and vittatum can be seen.
There is an ornamental brick entrance on the Cardo degli Aurighi. The doorway is 1.90 wide. From the threshold can be deduced, that the doors were shut from the inside. The entrance is framed by brick columns supporting a brick pediment. A staircase next to the entrance led to the first upper floor.
To the right of the main entrance is a small secondary door, leading to an understairs. In the jambs are travertine blocks used for barring the entrance. It is the same system that was employed in the Horrea Epagathiana. In one jamb was a plain hole, in the other a hole above which is a groove. Behind the latter hole is a small hole. A bar was lodged first in the plain hole and then dropped into the grooved one. There must have been a locking system at the end of the bar, whereby a bolt could be shot into the second smaller hole and secured, probably by a padlock. Apparently this was a store house for more costly goods.
Locking devices. / Rickman 1971, fig. 14.
Two narrow corridors can be accessed from a central court paved with opus spicatum. In the back wall of the court is a large, semicircular wall-niche. Two travertine consoles must have supported columns and entablature. On either side of the corridors are rows of three rooms. Above the doors to the rooms are small, rectangular windows. In the corner of some of the rooms, in the back wall, is a small L-shaped slot. The function is unknown. High up in the back wall of many rooms is a splayed slit window. In the side walls of some rooms are small, square windows, set even higher.
Left: The entrance seen from the south. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The north-west part of the interior, seen from the courtyard. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
The lower part of the niche in the courtyard. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Magazzino dei Doli
Regio III – Insula XIV – (III,XIV,3)
Plan of the building. / After SO I.
This is a single room (c. 10.00 x 10.00) with dolia defossa, buried jars for storing wine or olive-oil. The room was built in the Hadrianic period (opus mixtum), but there are many later modifications.
Two slit-windows in the south-east wall indicate, that the area originally did not have a roof. In the room are 21 dolia defossa, not dug into the ground, but in the ground because the floor level has been raised. The raised floor may well bear a relation to the blocking of a door in the south-west wall. Only the upper part of this door is now visible. Above the door a rectangular cult-niche was hacked out. Another, semicircular niche was hacked out in the south-east wall.
The Magazzino presumably belonged to a workshop on the ground floor of the adjacent Caseggiato di Annio (III,XIV,4). In the facade of the latter building is a relief with storage jars.
The dolia seen from the north. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Regio III – Insula XVII – (III,XVII,1) and Terme
Plan of the horrea. / After SO I.
This store building has been dated to the Hadrianic period (opus mixtum). It was probably privately owned. The main entrance, at the south side, was framed by brick pilasters. Inside are two rows of rooms on either side of a north-south central corridor with a well. The entrances to the rooms are 1.40 wide. The floors are of opus spicatum. In the north wall another entrance was made later. The threshold has a bolt hole and two pivot holes. In a few rooms in the south part of the building a tiny bath suite was built, with mosaic floors, in the fourth century (opus vittatum).
Plan of the baths. / Poccardi 2006, fig. 6.
Left: Some vittatum walls belonging to the tiny baths, set against the mixtum walls of the horrea. Seen from the north-east. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The tiny baths seen from the south. / Photograph: Eric Taylor.
Regio III – Insula XVIII – (III,XVIII) and buildings identified through geophysical research
Plan of the excavated part of the horrea. / After SO I.
This was a very large store building, between Via della Foce and the Cardo degli Aurighi. Only the east wall and part of the south wall have been excavated (red latericium from the Severan period, partition walls of mixtum that may be older). The walls were reinforced by brick buttresses.
Detail of the characteristic red, Severan brickwork. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
The full extent of the building is known through geophysical research conducted by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome in 2000 (directed by M. Heinzelmann). Other buildings and structures that could identified in the west part of region III are:
- Two small horrea to the west of Horrea III,XVIII (plan nr. 23).
- Built in the second century AD.
- A market (nr. 25).
- The building has a trapezoidal plan (c. 40 x 60 metres). Shops surround a courtyard. The rooms were decorated with geometric black-and-white mosaics. Built in the early second century AD.
- A gate in the city wall, at the west end of the Cardo degli Aurighi (nr. 28).
- At this point the city wall was reinforced in the third century, perhaps during the reign of Aurelianus.
- A domus on top of the city wall (nr. 27).
- Built in the late first or early second century AD. A heated floor and marble decoration have been dated to the third century.
- Two small houses to the south of the city wall (nr. 26).
- Built in the second half of the first and in the second century AD. Later the two buildings were joined.
The west part of regions I and III with new discoveries, resulting from the geophysical research by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. Numbers indicate trenches. / Plan: Michael Heinzelmann.
Regio IV – Insula V – (IV,V,12)
Plan of the building. / After SO I.
This tiny, probably privately owned, store building is in an isolated position. It was entered from the south. In front of the entrance is a large, Hadrianic brick archway, belonging to a different building however. In the east wall of the central east room is a door leading to the Cortile del Dioniso. The opus reticulatum has been dated to the early first century AD.
There are six rooms, three on either side of a wide central corridor (width 4.80). The doors of the rooms are 2.34 wide. A few thresholds have been preserved, with two pivot holes and bolt holes. One was later changed into a shop-threshold. Three buttresses composed of very large travertine blocks were set against the north wall. The thickness of the walls is 0.60, enough to carry several upper floors, but there are no remains of staircases.
In the south-east room the Mitreo delle Sette Porte was installed.
The building seen from the south. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Regio V – Insula I – (V,I,2)
Plan of the building. / After SO I.
This store-building measures c. 59 x 45 meters. It has been excavated only partly. It was built with opus reticulatum with a few bricks, that has been dated to c. 50 AD. In the interior are rooms (7 x 4 meters) arranged around a courtyard. A curved wall in the north-west part has been dated to the fourth century (opus latericium). Recent geophysical research by Michael Heinzelmann suggests that it is part of the arena of a small amphitheatre, that had been installed in the building. Nearby is a large concentration of basalt blocks, possibly a dump of the excavators.
Part of the late curved wall, seen from the south-east. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Portico del Monumento Repubblicano and Magazzino Annonario
Regio V – Insula XI – (V,XI,4-5)
Plan of the buildings. / After SO I.
The Porticus of the Republican Monument is located to the south of the Decumanus Maximus, near the theatre. Behind the porticus is a row of four shops, behind which is a large hall. The building was named after the republican funerary monument V,XI,6, to the east. It was built during the reign of Commodus (opus latericium).
A corridor to the east of the shops leads to a wedge-shaped, Hadrianic store building. At the north end is a large hall with two rows of brick piers. Later many rooms, perhaps workshops, were created in the hall. To the south is an open area with more than 100 storage jars (dolia), that probably contained olive oil or wine. The area to the south, with a staircase and some piers, has not been completely excavated yet.
Left: Remains of dolia. In the background is the theatre. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: A dolium. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker (featuring Leonard Bakker).
Portico degli Archi Trionfali and Horrea dell’Artemide
Regio V – Insula XI – (V,XI,7-8)
Plan of the buildings. / After SO I.
The Horrea of Artemis is a large store building, with an average width of 30 meters. It is situated behind the Porticus of the Triumphal Arches, i.e. the Arch of Caracalla, that was built between the porticus and the theatre. The porticus is in front of a row of shops, and has been dated to the reign of Commodus.
In the south-east corner of the courtyard of the store building the remains were found of the peristylium of a late-republican domus. The present building has been dated to the Trajanic period (opus mixtum). In the Severan period and later some modifications took place in the north-west part and on the south side, where an apse was added.
The building consists of a courtyard without porticus, with rooms to the west, east and south. It was entered from the Decumanus through an entrance corridor flanked by shops. Here the level is c. 1 meter higher than the Decumanus. The threshold of the entrance to the courtyard is 2.30 wide and framed by brick pilasters. It has pivot holes for doors opening inwards. To the east is a narrow door, c. 1.20 wide, with a smooth marble threshold with two pivot holes.
The average width of the doors of the rooms around the courtyard is 1.75. A door in the east wall leads to a narrow alley (c. 2 meters wide) between the building and the Horrea di Hortensius (V,XII,1). Brick buttresses (0.60 x 0.60) were set against the back wall of the rooms in the south-east part. There are no remains of staircases. In the courtyard is a large underground cistern.
The building was named after a fragment of a wall-painting with a depiction of Artemis-Diana (the precise place of discovery has not been published yet). It has been dated to the late second or early third century. It shows three deities in a row, two full standing figures and one bust, all turned slightly towards the left. The juxtaposition and the dominating presence of the deities suggest, that the painting comes from a shrine. The first figure is male, largely naked, having in his left hand a slightly curved stick of which the upper part is missing, while his right arm is lost, as is his head. To his left is a low tree, to his right an animal, according to R. Calza and Helbig a panther. They therefore identify the figure as Dionysus. The second and third figure are in a separate compartment. To the left is a hunting Diana, to the reight a veiled, female bust. It has been suggested that this is Aurora (R. Calza), or Terra Mater (Helbig). Below the deities is a garden scene.
The painting with the three deities. / Baccini Leotardi 1978, Tav. X.
Horrea di Hortensius
Regio V – Insula XII – (V,XII,1)
Plan from SO I
The Horrea of Hortensius is a very large store building, with an average width of 60 meters, opposite the theatre. The oldest masonry (opus reticulatum with only a few bricks) has been dated to c. 25-50 AD. Restorations can be seen from the Severan period (cellae on the west side) to the fifth century (see below).
Along the Decumanus are shops behind a colonnade. The building was entered from the Decumanus. Four tufa steps lead downwards to the older, lower level of the building. There are two very wide entrance corridors, behind each other. In the inner corridor was a staircase, that has now disappeared.
The building consists of a rectangular courtyard with a colonnade, with rooms on all four sides. The columns of the colonnade are made of drums of tufa with Doric capitals, except for the angle columns which are entirely of travertine. The average width of the doors of the rooms is 1.70 – 1.80. The thresholds are partly of bricks and partly of travertine, with two pivot-holes. In the courtyard a long drain was found, running from south to north. In the east wall, accessible from the east extension of the south colonnade, was a small door, c. 1 meter wide, which was later filled in.
In the south-west part is an interesting, small room, perhaps a shrine. In the entrance is a travertine threshold with holes, perhaps for a metal screen. The threshold shows hardly any signs of wear. In the north-west part of the colonnade a shrine was built in the third quarter of the third century (max. w. 3.72, max. d. 3.18; opus vittatum). On the floor is a mosaic-and-opus sectile. Wooden benches may have been placed on wide, black bands to the left and right. In the centre of a central, white panel is a disc with “rays” and an inscribed star. On either side of the disc is a torch. A low podium or bench, set against the back wall, was replaced by a larger one. The larger podium and a masonry altar were set on top of the mosaic-and-opus sectile, partly on the disc. In the mosaic, behind the entrance, is the following inscription:
L(ucius) HORTE(n)SIVS HERACLIDA N(avarchus) CL(assis) PR(aetoriae) MIS(enensis) EX VOTO
TEMPLVM FECIT, IVLIVS VICTORINVS SACER(dos) TESSEL(avit)
The shrine was built by L. Hortensius Heraclida, navarchus (captain) of the classis praetoriae Misenensis (the military fleet at Misenum). Sacerdos (priest) Iulius Victorinus took care of the mosaic. A small cippus or altar, found across the street in or behind the Portico di Nettuno (II,IV,1), with the inscription:
This probably comes from the shrine. Ships from the fleet at Misenum were also stationed at Ostia. According to Meiggs they probably had to police the harbours and control shipping. The ships may also have taken governors and emperors to and from the provinces. It is not clear what the relation was between the Misenum fleet and the store building.
3D-drawing of the cult-room, seen from the south-west. / Bakker 1994, fig. 9.
Becatti suggests that the disc represents the sun, and is a reference to the cult of Sol. Furthermore it is possible that Isis and Serapis were worshipped here. The cult of these gods was of great importance amongst the soldiers of the Misenum fleet, many of whom were Egyptians. Next to the ordinary navarchi-captains they had religious officials called navarchi, probably in charge of the Isis-feast navigium Isidis. It is an attractive possibility that Heraclida was a navarchus-priest.
The latest alterations in the building include an apse in the north-east part, and a partial blocking of the facade, at the west end (c. 400 AD; opus vittatum). The entire facade was blocked in the first quarter of the fifth century. It is not certain that it was still a store building in this period.
Left: The building seen from the north-west (from the theatre). / Photograph: Simon Bakker.
Right: The columns of the facade, seen from the east. / Photograph: Bill Storage.
Left: The south end of the colonnade, seen from the north-west. Note the travertine corner columns. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The shrine of Hortensius, seen from the south. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: The interior of the shrine of Hortensius. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The cippus of Hortensius (cast). / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Regio V – Insula XII – (V,XII,2)
This store building has been excavated only partly. The masonry has been dated to the Hadrianic period. Along the Decumanus are six shops. Between the shops is the entrance corridor, c. 2 meters wide. It leads to rooms around a courtyard. Near the entrance corridor is a staircase. Between this building and the Horrea di Hortensius to the west is a narrow alley with some buttresses. In one of the east rooms the so-called Sabazeo (V,XII,3) was found.
Plan of the store building. / After SO I.
Horrea in Trastevere
Many archaeological remains were found on the right (northern) side of the Tiber. They are on the inside of what was once a sharp bend of the river, to the north-east of the city centre, and to the north-west of the mediaeval village. This bend was cut off by a flood in 1557, after which it was gradually filled up with earth, becoming a swamp at first. It is now known as the Fiume Morto (Dead River).
A number of cippi demarcating the Tiber was found in 1921, 1953 and 1957. They can be dated to 23-41 AD. They are all facing the south-east, and have almost the same text:
C. ANTISTIVS C.F. VETVS
C. VALERIVS FLACCVS TANVRIAN
P. VERGILIVS M.F. PONTIANVS
P. CATIENVS P.F. SABINVS
C. VERGILIVS TI.F. RVFVS
CVRATORES RIPARVM ET ALVEI
TIBERIS EX S.C. TERMINAVERVNT
and on the back:
PVBLICO AVT PRIVATORVM
During the excavations of 1957 the remains were found of three horrea, with rooms arranged around courtyards. They could be dated to the second half of the first century AD and to the second century.
Plan of the horrea, with the location of the cippi. / From Bertacchi 1960, fig. 6 (partial).
In 1992-3 rooms belonging to baths were found. In a frigidarium with two basins a black-and-white mosaic was uncovered. Around the edges is a city wall with four gates, and with round towers on the corners. In the centre are a Nereid riding a triton, sea monsters and dolphins. It was probably made by the same workshop that was active in the Terme di Buticosus and Terme di Nettuno, in the first half of the second century AD. Underneath another black-and-white mosaic was found, from the first half of the first century AD. Rows of towers surround geometrical motifs.
Plan of the Trastevere area. A – baths; B – horrea; C – huge circular structure seen on aerial photographs (Mausoleum of Claudius?); D – walls seen on aerial photographs; E – large masonry structure. / From Pellegrino-Olivanti-Panariti 1995, fig. 1.
Drawing of the second-century mosaic from the baths. / From Pellegrino-Olivanti-Panariti 1995, fig. 2.
Drawing of the first-century mosaic from the baths. / From Pellegrino-Olivanti-Panariti 1995, fig. 3.
In the 1990’s the remains were found of a large fullery, that has not yet been published.
On the other side of the river (and therefore not belonging on this page, but hard to place elsewhere) remains of horrea were found. They are to the north of the borgo of mediaeval Ostia, in the area demarcated by the modern Via del Castello, Via Morcelli and Via delle Saline. The horrea were next to (to the east) of the Tiber bank. A landing-stage (mole) was nearby. The oldest remains have been dated to the first half of the first century AD. There were various modifications, until the Severan period. From about 250 AD the horrea were no longer used. On top are remains of some structure from the sixth century and late-antique burials. In the early 16th century a store-building for salt, the so-called Casalone del Sale (not to be confused with the Casone del Sale, the current museum), was built on top of that.
The Casalone, seen from the west.
The road to the south of the Casalone, seen from the east. Note the slope of the road.
The lower level is the former bed of the Tiber. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Caseggiato dei Misuratori del Grano
Regio I – Insula VII – (I,VII,1-2)
Plan of the building. / After SO I.
Only the south-east corner of the House of the Grain Measurers has been excavated. It is at the intersection of two roads. The one to the south was named after the building (Via dei Misuratori del Grano). To the east is Via della Fortuna, named after an intarsio with a depiction of Fortuna in the east facade. The intarsio belongs to the first building period, dated to c. 120 AD. It was inserted at the intersection, high up in the centre of the corner pier of a portico running in front of a number of shops. Fortuna is painted red and depicted in the most common way: with cornucopiae and rudder.
The south facade consists of a row of shops. A balcony supported by travertine corbels ran across the south facade. In the centre of the facade is an ornamental doorway, leading to the unexcavated interior. It is flanked by brick pilasters supporting a tympanum. In the tympanum is a brick relief of a grain measure. Directly above the door is a brick relief of a stick, perhaps a measuring rod. The reliefs are not enough evidence to think that this was a store building for grain, as has been suggested. Lanciani mentions another symbol of commerce nearby: “two genii bearing amphorae typify wine” (Notes from Rome, p. 14 ). I do not know where it was and what happened to it.
Left: The building seen from the west on an old photograph (source unknown). The Tiber has eroded the ruins. This part of the Tiber is now filled with earth.
Right: The south facade, seen from the south-east, partly hidden by the porticus of the Piccolo Mercato. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: The ornamental doorway in the south facade. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The grain measure in the tympanum above the ornamental doorway. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: The measuring rod (?) above the ornamental doorway. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: The east facade, seen from the south-east. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Left: The intarsio of Fortuna in the corner pier. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Right: Reconstruction drawing of the building, seen from the south-east. / From Gismondi 1923, fig. 22.
Horrea dei Mensores
Regio I – Insula XIX – (I,XIX,4)
The huge Store Building of the Grain Measurers was built in the Trajanic period (opus mixtum). It has been related to the grain measurers, because their guild complex (I,XIX,1-3) invades the south-eastern part of the building. The building is aligned with the Tiber, not with the road (Via della Foce) to the south. The north end has not been excavated.
Plan of the building. / After SO I.
The building was entered from Via della Foce through two ornamental entrances with pilasters. It consists of rooms to the west and east of a long courtyard, flanked by arcades. To the west of the courtyard is a double row of rooms. Many of the rooms are huge, c. 12 metres wide, with piers supporting the ceiling. To the west of the Hall of the Grain Measurers is a wide ramp leading to the first floor (later a few steps were added).
To the west of these rooms is a long corridor, continuing along the north and south side. It has a floor of opus spicatum. And to the west of the corridors are wide rooms with restorations that have been dated to the late third or early fourth century (opus vittatum). Few commercial buildings near the Tiber were restored at such a late date.
Presumably this was a grain measuring centre, rather than a store building.
The complex seen from the south-east. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Regio I – Insula XX – (I,XX,1)
Plan of the building. / After SO I.
The function of this Hadrianic building (opus mixtum and latericium), that has been called a store building, is not clear. Perhaps it was a market. On the side of Via della Foce is a porticus, behind which are four large shops. In the centre of the building are two large staircases. To the south of these are halls, to the north are rooms on either side of a barrel-vaulted corridor. The rooms in the northern part are lighted by slit-windows in the back walls. Apart from the shops the building is aligned with the Tiber.
For decades people have not been allowed to enter the building, which threatens to collapse. The north part of the building has not been excavated.
Rooms in the south-east part, seen from the south. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Regio II – Insula II – (II,II,1-2)
Plan of the Magazzini. / After SO I.
The Republican Store-building was in reality probably a complex of shops and workshops. Originally there was a portico of square tufa piers to the west, south and east. The walls were erected at the end of the first century BC in opus quasi reticulatum. The north part was later taken up by the service area of the Terme dei Cisiarii (II,II,3).
In the south part of the portico a row of shops was built c. 50 AD. It is surprising that the shops open towards the north, that is towards the building itself, and not to the south (the Decumanus).
General view from the south-east. Note the tufa piers of the original southern portico. / Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
Originally published by “Ostia: Harbour City of Ancient Rome“, republished with permission for educational, non-commercial purposes.