Photogrammetric modelling of the Grandi Magazzini di Settimio Severo

The large brick building known as the ‘Grandi Magazzini di Settimio Severo’ lies at the heart of the port complex at Portus, at the head of the canal that opened into the Trajanic hexagonal harbour.

Traditionally identified as a warehouse of the later second-century AD, its central position within the port, as well as its size (190m x 130m x 25m) suggests that it may have had several functions. The presence of a series of ramps connecting it with the Trajanic harbour and a staircase at the western end reveal that the building was built over at least three floors.

The building appears in plans of Portus as early as 1827 (Luigi Canina) and follows a similar format in both the drawings of Gismondi (1933) and Testaguzza (1965), as a U-shaped structure that opened on to the Canale di Imbocco al Porto di Traiano as well as the hexagonal harbour. The most recent detailed plans of the building (Parco Archeologico di Ostia) were used as the basis for an initial series of 3D visualisations that investigated both the southern façade and internal movement (some of these models can be seen in the project’s photostream on Flickr). More recently, other variations of the layout and height of the building have been investigated as part of an overall reconstruction of Portus (see the work of Artasmedia).

In 2017 an initial photogrammetric survey was made of the external southern façade of the building to provide precise scaled model of the standing structure which can be integrated with the earlier 3D modelling. Using the photogrammetry software Agisoft  several hundred photographs were taken, providing the initial framework for the model.

Subsequently the interiors of several ground floor warehouses were also recorded as the standing building survey showed that there were a number of different types used throughout the structure.

The photogrammetry will continue this summer during the 2018 Portus Field School with the aim of recording the northern façade of the building.