Fieldwork from 1998-2004
This comprised a large scale geophysical survey of the port and its hinterland lying to the east (Keay, Millett, Strutt & Paroli 2005). The work was funded by the AHRC with assistance from the Soprintendenza di Beni Archeologici di Ostia, and involved multiple seasons of survey (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004).
Three survey techniques were used: topographic survey, geophysics and field-walking. All these methods were rapid and non- destructive. They thus enabled large areas of the site to be covered, c. 200 Ha, in what was a relatively short timescale. The survey area was subdivided into four broader zones and twenty more restricted areas. It revealed a wealth of new information about the layout of the port and the ways in which it functioned during antiquity. In the silted up area of the Claudian basin, a series of major structures were discovered running along the waterfront parallel to the Monte Giulio. Around the hexagonal Trajanic basin, which was refilled with water in the early 20th century, careful survey between standing buildings added much new information about known key complexes, such as the Palazzo Imperiale and several warehouses, but revealed the existence of new buildings such as a temple on the eastern side of the Trajanic basin, and shed light upon a structure originally reported by Lanciani but since forgotten, the so-called Foro Olitorio. The greatest surprises lay in the flat area between the Trajanic basin and the Tiber.
The survey revealed (1) a major canal of Trajanic date running from the Fossa Traiana to skirt the Trajanic basin and run eastwards to the Tiber, (2) a road and aqueduct running parallel to this. In addition (3) there was clear evidence of some kind of river port at the point where the canal and road reached the Tiber, as well as for extensive burials throughout. All of these features were underlain by major geological features that marked the advancing coastline and which provide important information about the development of the Tiber Delta.