by Peter Silverman, Rome '14
Today we took the train to Ostia Antica, which literally means "Ancient Ostia." Ostia was an ancient port colony which was also the first colony of Rome. It was founded in the 4th century BCE and was used frequently until the later empire. It was then when Claudius built a new port city named, you guessed it, Portus! However, it was not until the rule of Trajan that the
city Portus was finished and trademarked with a lighthouse. Ostia had a population of about 60,000 people compared to Rome, which had about a population of 1 million in the first century. Ostia's forum included a Capitolium, a temple to the gods Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. There were also many warehouses to store the grain that fed the people of Rome.
The public baths were also a major part of Ostia Antica. People from all over would come to the public baths to socialize, clean themselves, or even do arbitrary activities such as weight lifting. We think the baths were separated by gender, and these particular baths contained a mosaic of Neptune and Neptune's wife, Amphitrite. Ostia also had its own firefighting service which
were responsible for saving the supply of grain that fed Rome. They used buckets of water, bronze water pumps, and rags soaked in vinegar to put out the fires. I found Ostia especially similar to Poland during the 1950s as it had supplied its adjacent countries with supplies of grain and other food products.
We also searched for the hidden temple to Mithras called a Mithraeum. These temples marked the sign of the ancient Roman mystery cult which was especially popular among soldiers. This cult was most comparable to the Masons today. Archaeologists have discovered around 100 Mithraea throughout the Roman empire. To finish off the day, we headed to the beach to recharge for the next day!