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 …

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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.

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New investigations of the northern mole of the Claudian harbour

Excavations of the northern mole of the Claudian harbour began in 1957 with the construction of the international airport of Leonardo da Vinci at Fiumicino (for a news report of 1959 see Archivio Storico Luce). The work was recorded in great detail by Otello Testaguzza (Portus: illustrazione dei Porti di Claudio e Traiano e della citta di Porto a Fiumicino) …

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Claudian mole
Photo: Stephen Kay

Excavations of the northern mole of the Claudian harbour began in 1957 with the construction of the international airport of Leonardo da Vinci at Fiumicino (for a news report of 1959 see Archivio Storico Luce). The work was recorded in great detail by Otello Testaguzza (Portus: illustrazione dei Porti di Claudio e Traiano e della citta di Porto a Fiumicino) revealing both the different types of construction technique used to build the mole as well as it’s trajectory westward into the open sea. Over 800m of the mole was revealed, parts of which are still visible outside the airport today.

More recently research has been conducted by the Parco Archaeologico di Ostia Antica (ex Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici di Ostia) to trace the continuation of the mole towards the hypothesised location of the great lighthouse. Published in the BSR monograph Portus and its Hinterland in 2011 , the work involved a series of cores in the area of Pesce Luna (immediately to the west of viale Coccia di Morte) and was successful in locating a spread of construction material westward from the road.

Photo: Stephen Kay

In 2016 the Portus Project conducted a first season of geophysical survey in the same  locality with the aim of using Ground-Penetrating Radar to follow the course of the mole, as indicated by the earlier research. The GPR survey did not record a single continuous anomaly as had been hypothesised, but rather a series of interspersed concentrations, suggesting the possibility of later spoliation or a different form of structure.

A second season of geophysical survey was undertaken in 2017 using the technique of Electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) to further investigate at a greater depth the discontinuous anomalies recorded by the GPR. A total of 24 straight profiles were collected, divided equally in two areas of investigation. Each profile measured 128m with a linear spacing of the electrodes at 2m and a traverse spacing of 4m. The results of the pseudo-sections were then used to guide the placement of 3 new geo-archaeological cores to test the results, one directly above a large feature recorded by the ERT.

The combination of the techniques revealed that the northern mole is preserved at a depth of approximately 9m and continues to a depth of 15m. This spring a final season of ERT will be conducted with the aim of completing the coverage from Viale Coccia di Morte westward towards the lighthouse. Whilst the earlier work of Morelli et al (2011) had provided the approximate location of the mole, the aim now is to understand whether the mole was one continuous structure or perhaps built with a series of arches resting on piers.

Bibliography

Morelli, C., Marinucci, A. and Arnoldus-Huyzendveld, A. Il Porto di Claudio: nuove scoperte, in S.Keay and L.Paroli (eds) Portus and its hinterland, Archaeological Monographs of the British School at Rome 18, 2011: 47-65.

Testaguzza, O. (1970) Portus: illustrazione dei Porti di Claudio e Traiano e della citta di Porto a Fiumicino. Rome, Julia Editrice.

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Portus Field School 2018

The Portus Field School will run again this summer, between June 18th and 29th. In the two weeks we plan to reveal a section of the norther facade of the Palazzo Imperiale opening towards the port of Claudius, as well as finish the photogrammetry of the Severan warehouses. All those interested should get in touch with me- please see the …

The post Portus Field School 2018 appeared first on Portus Project.

The Portus Field School will run again this summer, between June 18th and 29th. In the two weeks we plan to reveal a section of the norther facade of the Palazzo Imperiale opening towards the port of Claudius, as well as finish the photogrammetry of the Severan warehouses. All those interested should get in touch with me- please see the Application Process tab for details of how to apply.

Portus Field School 2015

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Portus Field School 2018

The Portus Field School will run again this summer, between June 18th and 29th. In the two weeks we plan to reveal a section of the norther facade of the Palazzo Imperiale opening towards the port of Claudius, as well as finish the photogrammetry of the Severan warehouses. All those interested should get in touch with me- please see the …

The post Portus Field School 2018 appeared first on Portus Project.

The Portus Field School will run again this summer, between June 18th and 29th. In the two weeks we plan to reveal a section of the norther facade of the Palazzo Imperiale opening towards the port of Claudius, as well as finish the photogrammetry of the Severan warehouses. All those interested should get in touch with me- please see the Application Process tab for details of how to apply.

Portus Field School 2015

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An Ocean without History? CMA and SMMI Annual Lecture 24th March 17.45

This year the CMA turns 20, and as such we thought it a good time to take stock and think about what we do well and what we could improve on.  Out of this discussion came the desire to shine

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This year the CMA turns 20, and as such we thought it a good time to take stock and think about what we do well and what we could improve on.  Out of this discussion came the desire to shine a brighter light on the research being conducted on maritime heritage (both within the  CMA and beyond) and to offer a space within which significant developments can be discussed.  As such we agreed that we would begin an annual lecture series, singling out a key issue per year and acting as a focus for our discussions.  At the same time, it became apparent that there was considerable shared interests between research conducted within the CMA and that represented more broadly within the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI).  As such, we’ve teamed together to help attract a more diverse audience with the hope of seeing discussion develop in new and interesting ways.

We are very pleased to announce that the inaugural annual lecture will be given by Dr Ulrike Guérin, UNESCO Secretariat of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage on Friday 24th March at 17.45 in lecture theatre A of the Avenue Campus, University of Southampton. Dr Guérin’s talk is entitled:
‘An ocean without history? Bringing the importance of the ocean’s history and underwater cultural heritage to the attention of the UN and of governments.’
At a time when the UK government is ever more closely aligning itself with the UNESCO 2001 convention, with formal adoption becoming a clear possibility, this talk represents a chance to hear about the value and importance of our shared cultural heritage and how it can be protected. This a public talk open to all, and we very much hope to see a diverse range of people there.  

To sign up for the event (tickets are free) follow this link.  

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CMA on the Road

IKUWA 2016 conference marked a special event for Southampton’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology. Over twenty of us attended the event in Fremantle, at the Western Australia Maritime Museum, held for four days, November 28 till December 2nd, 2016. The conference began

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IKUWA 2016 conference marked a special event for Southampton’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology. Over twenty of us attended the event in Fremantle, at the Western Australia Maritime Museum, held for four days, November 28 till December 2nd, 2016. The conference began with a UNESCO roundtable on the first day. Regional underwater cultural heritage issues were brought to light, and general concerns were expressed. That was followed the next day by a provoking session chaired by Dr Lucy Blue from the University of Southampton and Dr Colin Breen from the University of Ulster. The session focused on maritime archaeology capacity building and training in developing countries. Ziad Morsy (PhD Candidate), Dr Lucy Semaan (Post-doctoral fellow) and Robert MacKintosh (PhD Candidate) from the CMA presented respectively on the state of art situation of Egypt, Lebanon, and the UNESCO convention.

Meanwhile CMA posters by Ziad Morsy, Katerina Velentza (PhD Candidate), Kiki Kuijjier (PhD Candidate), Dr Carmen Obied (CMA alumni) and Steven Lopez (CMA alumni) exemplified the wide range of research on topics such as sailing the Nile during the 19th-20th centuries, transport of sculpture during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, colonising Australia by the earliest known seafarers, and sensory navigation in the Roman Mediterranean.

CMA posters

IKUWA6 conference brought together the worldwide community of maritime and underwater archaeology in which the CMA disseminated high quality research. Here’s the list of paper presentations and titles:

  • Dr Clara Fuquen Gomez (CMA alumni): Logboats of Coquí: an ethnographic approach to maritime material culture.
  • Dr Rachel Bynoe (CMA alumni): The cold case of the Eccles Bonebeds: diver ground-truthing in the North Sea.
  • Dr Fraser Sturt (Associate Professor): Submerged landscapes: ‘Good to think’.
  • Charlotte Dixon (PhD candidate): Miniaturising boats: the value of models.
  • Crystal Safadi (PhD Candidate): A Maritime Space-Time of the Levantine Basin.
  • Robert MacKintosh (PhD Candidate): Capacity building and the 2001 UNESCO Convention: an Adriatic perspective.
  • Professor Jonathan Adams, Kroum Batchvarov, Kalin Dimitrov, Justin Dix, Helen Farr, Dragomir Garbov, Johann Rönnby, Dimitris Sakellariou, Fraser Sturt, Lyudmil Vagalinski: Deep water archaeology in the Black Sea.
  • Mitzy Antonieta Quinto Cortés (PhD Candidate), Professor Jonathan Adams & Mark Jones (The Mary Rose Trust, UK): Preservation in situ of UCH in estuarine contexts: the relationship between material remains and the environment.
  • Ziad Morsy (PhD Candidate) & Emad Khalil ( Alexandria University): After one hundred years, is it still ‘nascent’?
  • Dr Lucy Semaan (Post-Doctoral fellow): Maritime archaeology in Lebanon: state of the art, challenges, and future prospects.
  • Dr Lucy Blue (Senior Lecturer) & Colin Breen (University of Ulster): Capacity building and training in the global south: introductory paper.
  • Dr Lucy Blue (Senior Lecturer), Jeremy Green & *Tom Vosmer (*C/- Western Australian Museum, Australia): Maritime Archaeology Survey of Oman (MASO) 2015.

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Something Old, Something New

The end of September and the start of October are one of the busiest times of the year within the CMA. In one instance our existing cohort of MA/MSc students are in the final stages of finishing and submitting their

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The end of September and the start of October are one of the busiest times of the year within the CMA. In one instance our existing cohort of MA/MSc students are in the final stages of finishing and submitting their dissertations – very much the culmination of their year of study. Staff are then busy marking and enjoying reflecting on the research and fieldwork that has gone into these very personal projects.

This year my own tutees have covered subjects ranging from sculptures found on shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, Mayan navigation, 20th century Cuban migration watercraft, the maritime element of Napoleon’s siege of Acre, and the archaeology of recreational watercraft. Extending a survey of dissertation topics across my colleagues would reveal an equally wide range of topics, periods, places and themes. Yet, this is not an unusual set of dissertation subjects, it is simply one that reflects the inherent diversity of approach that maritime archaeology occupies in the 21st century.

The reverse of this process then begins in the last week of September with the induction of our incoming cohort of MA/MSc students. This is always one of the most exciting parts of the year as we begin to meet and get to know a new group of maritime archaeologists from around the world. The 2016/17 group come from as far afield as the USA, Greece and China (and of course the UK), illustrating the great geographical spread of students that has been a hallmark of the CMA since it was founded.

At the same time, we welcome new doctoral researchers to the CMA. This year they include cross-faculty PhD projects in collaboration with engineering (ship science) and law, funded through the University’s ‘Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI)’, as well as a project funded by the Honor Frost Foundation (HFF). All of these again serve to underline the great variety of areas of study for maritime archaeology. In many cases we are welcoming back alumni of previous MA/MSc cohorts, who are returning to Southampton having cut their teeth in the wider world of maritime archaeology.

So at a time of year when we are looking backwards with nostalgia at what has been another excellent MA/MSc cycle, we are also looking forward to the potential of the next year. We are able to send one group of maritime archaeologists to begin the next stage of their careers while welcoming in their successors and being able to plan their teaching, practical activities, and fieldwork for the next year – we’ll probably leave it a few months before asking them for a dissertation topic!

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Archaeology Activity Day for the Festival of British Archaeology

Archaeology Activity Day

As part of the Festival of British Archaeology we are organising an Archaeology Activity Day at the University of Southampton. There will plenty of opportunities for hands-on experience via free interactive workshops:

Bones & Burials
CSI Shipwrecks
Meet the Monkeymen
Virtual Realities: Archaeology, Lego and Minecraft
Hants & Wight Maritime bus

The workshops are open to everyone of all ages. Drop in sessions running all day from 10am to 4pm.

Register your interest at: ArchDay@Soton.ac.uk and follow us on Twitter: @sotonarch

Archaeology, Avenue Campus, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BF

You can download a poster for the event here.

Archaeologists discover evidence of prehistoric gold trade route

Archaeologists at the University of Southampton have found evidence of an ancient gold trade route between the south-west of the UK and Ireland. A study suggests people were trading gold between the two countries as far back as the early Bronze Age (2500BC).

The research, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, used a new technique to measure the chemical composition of some of the earliest gold artefacts in Ireland. Findings show the objects were actually made from imported gold, rather than Irish. Furthermore, this gold is most likely to have come from Cornwall.

Lead author Dr Chris Standish says: “This is an unexpected and particularly interesting result as it suggests that Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland were making artefacts out of material sourced from outside of the country, despite the existence of a number of easily-accessible and rich gold deposits found locally.

“It is unlikely that knowledge of how to extract gold didn’t exist in Ireland, as we see large scale exploitation of other metals. It is more probable that an ‘exotic’ origin was cherished as a key property of gold and was an important reason behind why it was imported for production.”

The researchers used an advanced technique called laser ablation mass spectrometry to sample gold from 50 early Bronze Age artefacts in the collections of the National Museum of Ireland, such as; basket ornaments, discs and lunula (necklaces). They measured isotopes of lead in tiny fragments and made a comparison with the composition of gold deposits found in a variety of locations. After further analysis, the archaeologists concluded that the gold in the objects most likely originates from Cornwall, rather than Ireland – possibly extracted and traded as part of the tin mining industry.

Dr Standish says: “Perhaps what is most interesting is that during this time, compared to Ireland, there appears to be much less gold circulating in Cornwall and southern Britain. This implies gold was leaving the region because those who found it felt it was of more value to trade it in for other ‘desirable’ goods – rather than keep it.”

Today, gold is intrinsically linked with economic wealth, is universally exchangeable and underpins currencies and economies across much of the globe. However, gold may not always have had this value – in some societies, gold was seen to embody supernatural or magical powers, playing a major role in belief systems rather than economic ones. The value and significance placed on gold may have varied from region to region.

Dr Alistair Pike, a co-author from the University of Southampton, adds: “The results of this study are a fascinating finding. They show that there was no universal value of gold, at least until perhaps the first gold coins started to appear nearly two thousand years later. Prehistoric economies were driven by factors more complex than the trade of commodities – belief systems clearly played a major role.”

The paper A Non-local Source of Irish Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Gold can be found in the Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society.