Portus Project

Portus Project

Portus was the most important maritime port in the Roman empire. It was established by the emperor Claudius in the mid first century AD, initially to both boost limited anchorage facilities at Ostia and ease the dangers of flooding in the lower reaches of the Tiber. It was greatly expanded under Trajan in what must represent one of the greatest engineering achievements of the Roman Empire, encompassing up to 6.54 km2 of port installations.

The role of Portus was to supplying Rome with foodstuffs and other resources from across the Mediterranean throughout the year. Development continued during the second and third centuries, with a gradual diminution in its extent and the scope of its activities from the mid 5th through into the sixth century AD.

The Portus Project is a long-term research initiative that examines the character and development of the port as well as its relationship to Ostia, Rome and the Mediterranean at large. It built upon a major geophysical survey conducted between 1998 and 2004, and has comprised eight years excavation and geoarchaeological study since 2007, together with extensive geophysical survey which continues into 2021. This work is complemented by an ongoing programme of study into human bone, sculpture, ceramics and small finds from the port, and environmental analysis.

Following Simon Keay’s passing in 2021, Dragana Mladenović now remains a principal point of contact for all Portus project enquiries and is currently overseeing publication of the three planned volumes.

A list of project outputs can be found here.