Blog Exercise One

These images give us a plethora of information about the ancient Roman city of Ostia. Starting with the map, the importance of roads to the city immediately stands out. The city does not appear very large, yet it has a seemingly well-developed road system. However, the roads are not laid out in the strict grid like pattern that the Romans favored in their later colonies, so this is likely one of the earlier cities the Romans established. As we discussed in class, the intersection of the Cardo Maximus and the Decumanus Maximus forms the center of the city. In Ostia, the forum was placed at this key intersection; baths, temples, and government offices were likely located here as well. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans built cities with multiple centers. In Ostia, there appears to be a second center to the east, where the theater is located. The map shows additional baths near the theater, and a secondary temple was probably nearby. The picture in the bottom left brings the images of the ruins of Ostia to life. It shows the high quality roads that the Romans were capable of building, which greatly facilitated trade and growth in individual cities and the Empire as a whole. The raised sidewalks show the thoughtful planning that went into building Roman roads; the roads needed to be used by everyone, so they should be done right. No one wants to walk around in the dirt and other unpleasant things that accumulate in the roads! The pottery jugs in the images were used for storage of many goods including olive oil, wine, and the eternal Roman favorite of fermented fish sauce.

 

Many of the images reveal the importance of the sea and sea trade to the city of Ostia. The harbor depicted in the first picture seems well protected from the open sea, which would have made it an ideal place for merchant vessels to stop and trade. The goods they brought from foreign lands could have easily been brought from Ostia to the rest of the empire, thanks to the Roman road system. The Decumanus Maximus leads directly from the port to the city center, then to the secondary center in the east, and out the walls to the rest of Rome. This reflects the advantage the Romans had over the Greeks in their empires, as the Greeks could not develop roads (and thus could not achieve reliable wheeled travel), so they were limited to coastal cities and a small hinterland. The middle pictures on the second row seem to show sea monsters. In one, someone in a chariot, probably Neptune, fights the monsters and protects the city. Most likely, a temple or other building in Ostia was dedicated to Neptune to ensure his continued protection of the city. The other picture shows two boats headed toward the safety of the port of Ostia, represented by a structure, possibly a lighthouse, and away from another nefarious sea creature. Clearly, the sea was of huge importance to Ostia.

All the bairns o' Adam

Blog Exercise One

Please reblog this and write 500 words of discussion about what you see and how it relates to the lecture we had on classical and ancient cities last week. Your thoughts should be posted by midnight on Sunday January 26th. Feel free to comment on each others’ posts…

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