2012 Report

Fieldwork in 2012

A sixth season of fieldwork was undertaken at Portus between April and early May of 2102, funded by the SSBAR. The work was directed by Simon Keay (University of Southampton/BSR) and Angelo Pellegrino (SSBAR), with Fabrizio Felici (Parsifal Cooperativa), Roberta Cascino (BSR), Penny Copeland (University of Southampton), Stephen Kay (BSR) and Christina Triantafillou (University of Southampton), and students from the University of Southampton and the Universitá di Roma Tre. The work involved collaboration with the Duke Sforza Cesarini.


Work undertaken in 2012 consisted of a re-survey of the surface of Building 5 with a 400MhZ GPR in June 2012. This work complements an earlier GPR survey of the site (2008), and is permitting us to further refine our interpretation of the internal layout of the building.  It also involved targeted surface clearance and topographic work along the standing structures of the northern façade at the eastern end of the structure (originally exposed by Lugli in the 1930s), together with limited clearance along its southern façade. Our re-examination allowed us to confirm the organization of the building into three sections as suggested in the 2011 work. In addition to this work, clearance and topographical survey was undertaken on a new building (Building 7) c. 40m wide by 58m long that lies in the Tenuta Sforza Cesarini beyond Building 5 and the angle at the junction of sides VI and I of the Trajanic basin. It consisted of parallel bays similar to those of Building 5, although subtle differences in their alignments and the position of their piers indicate that it was structurally separate.

The seventh and eighth seasons of fieldwork, again directed by Simon Keay (University of Southampton/BSR) and Angelo Pellegrino (SSBAR) funded by the SSBAR and the same team as before, were undertaken in July and again in late September to early November 2012.  They focused upon the north-eastern quadrant of the Palazzo Imperiale, in the area lying between the Trajanic quays of the Claudian basin to the north, and the three-storey Castellum Aquae (Building 1) and the rectangular opus spicatum floored porticoed courtyard (Building 3) excavated in part by the Portus Project in 2009 (Keay, Earl & Felici 2011) to the east, and the main bulk of the Palazzo Imperiale to the west. The excavations have allowed us to better define the western limit of Building 3 within which were uncovered further traces of a glass workshop. This was initially identified further to the west half of Building 3; the new evidence allows us to date its period of use to the earlier 3rd century AD. Our work also revealed important new clues about the layout of the rest of the three storey Palazzo Imperiale. An opening on the western side of Building 3 permitted access into a vaulted corridor that ran from north to south, and in turn up into the first and second floor of the Palazzo by means of a staircase. A second corridor, that ran east-west, and opened off the north-south corridor, provided access into two vaulted rooms. The first of these (Room 1) was a latrine and there is evidence that the vaulted room above this shared the same function.  Initial clearance work also revealed evidence of a passageway with mosaic floor immediately to the north of the latter. The final phase of use of this part of the Palazzo Imperiale occurred in the later 5th century AD, when the complex was enclosed within the late antique fortification (Mura Costantininae) recorded in our 2008-2009 excavations. Our work shows that an opening on the Claudian basin was blocked-up, the floor levels of these rooms were raised, and that a new staircase leading to the first floor was built. These excavations were undertaken as part of a programme to restore the stability of standing walls and vaults in this part of the Palazzo Imperiale.

Additional work at Portus during 2012 consisted of a detailed laser scan of the façade of the Palazzo Imperiale, as well as all the excavated parts of Buildings, 1, 3 and 8, with a view to supplementing the site plans, elevation and photogrammetry of standing structures. This will make it possible to complete the virtual reality model of the complex in the course of 2013, as envisaged in the original project application. Further excavations are planned for 2013.

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