Laurentine Shore Project

Vicus Augustanus
  • v
    AUGUST 12th, 1876
    Vol.2546, 215-6

In the royal property of Castel Porziano, at a little distance from the villa of the younger Pliny, a funeral inscription of some importance has been discovered.(1) Among the public offices held by the deceased is mentioned that of director of the Maritime Post, the existence of which among the Romans was unknown. According to the interpretation of the text, which Dr. Henzen has given to the Institute of Archaeology, the Maritime Posts were carried by small vessels of great speed. Ostia was well suited for the headquarters of such a service, for we know that, in ordinary circumstances, vessels sailing from Ostia reached Egypt in eleven days, the Straits of Gibraltar in seven, the coast of Spain in four, the Gulf of Lyons in three, and Carthage in less than two.

(1. CIL XIV 2045)

  • cxxxv
    AUGUST 26th, 1911
    Vol.4374, 249-50

Another point of general interest made clear by Her Majesty's successful investigation is this: the Silva Laurentina, which now forms the bulk of the Royal Preserves, was used in imperial times for exactly the same purpose, namely, for the use and delectation of the rulers of Rome, and for the entertainment of imperial guests to whom a splendid 'partie de chasse' could be offered within an easy drive from the gates of the city. These details have been made clear from the discovery at the Vicus Augustanus (Torre di Piastra) of an inscription stating that two officers of the Imperial guild of gamekeepers and foresters (Collegium Saltuariorum) had made a present to the Guild itself of a set of 'imagines Augustorum nostrorum', marble or bronze busts of their sovereigns, to be placed in the schola or meeting room of the Corporation.(1) This schola has probably been found. It is a square apartment, with the door opening on the forum or piazza of the vicus, and surrounded by a colonnade of twelve slender columns of bigio morato, which have been found lying whole or in fragments on the marble floor. The inscription, moreover, tells us that the gamekeepers had formed themselves into a collegium salutare for the purpose of providing each member with a decent funeral, and a proper commemoration on the anniversary of his death. There is the possibility, therefore, of finding in the outskirts of the village one or more columbaria, which, if their funeral tablets have not been stolen, will enable us to gain a better notion about the organization of this branch of the imperial household. I may add that the tombstone of a 'procurator Laurento ad elephantos', and a record in the 'Liber Pontificalis' of the name Paunaria given to a section of this land, prove that, besides the great forest in which the wild boar, stags, and deer had free play, there were special farms for the breeding of elephants and peacocks.(2)

(1. J. Carcopino, Virgile et les Origines d'Ostie (Paris 1919) p. 255; AE xii, 1920, 12.)
(2. CIL VI 8583)

    SEPTEMBER 2oth, 1913
    Vol.44825 289-90

Between the ninth and tenth milestones of the Via Ostiensis, both above and below the beautiful ancient bridge called II Ponte della Rifolta, traces of the primitive road have been found, dating from the fourth century B.C., when road-paving had not yet been brought into use. This venerable relic of bygone ages, this witness of the first intercourse between Rome and the sea, is composed of two parallel walls of tufa blocks, 15 ft. apart, which support the embankment. The road-bed, as I just remarked, is not paved (silice stratum), but simply macadamized (glarea munitum), the thickness of the layer of gravel exceeding 2 ft. The road was lined at a later period with tombs and mausolea belonging to the gens Cartilia, the gens Fabia, & c. Traces have also been found of the aqueduct which supplied Ostia with an abundance of water: more than enough to satisfy the wants of 80,000 citizens and a corresponding number of floating population. I myself saw and measured this aqueduct in the spring of 1891, where it was borne on arches across the old saltworks. Its inner channel measured 2 ft. in height, 1½ ft. in width, and could carry at least 400 'quinarię'. Where did the water come from? Where were the springs? We have been able to trace the aqueduct backwards as far as the Valle della Rifolta, and to a diminutive spring producing a few tumblerfuls of water in the twenty-four hours. Not another drop can be found for miles. The same inexplicable circumstances occur in the water-supply of Laurentum (Torre Paterna), where Her Gracious Majesty Queen Helena has discovered lead pipes 1 ft. in diameter, water-tanks of huge dimensions, swimming ponds, public and private baths and fountains. Here also the aqueduct -dating from the time of the Anton-ines-has been traced as far back as the twelfth milestone of the Via Laurentina, near the farmhouse of La Santola, where water-famine reigns supreme. The explanation given about the destruction of the sacred woods of maritime Latium having caused wells and springs to dry up is not convincing; in fact, the territory from which the water-supply of Laurentum was drawn is more sylvan and better timbered today than it was in Roman times.

Her Majesty's last campaign of research within the boundary of the royal shooting forest of Castel Porziano has led to important results. One is the discovery of a beautifully preserved establishment for the raising of pigs, each pen being a model of cleanliness and rational arrangement. We had always supposed that the Late-Roman and mediaeval name of the farm, Porcilianum, was vulgarization of Pręcil-ianum, from the gens Praecilia, who might have owned it in the third or fourth century after Christ. However, Queen Helena's discovery makes it probable that the name has a humbler origin, and that as a section of the same farm was called Paunaria, because it was set apart for the breeding of peacocks, so this one may have been called Porciliana from the breeding of pigs.

The other discovery carries us back to prehistoric ages, and the first permanent settlement of men on the coast of Laurentum. Many graves have been found dating from the seventh or eighth century before Christ, viz., belonging to the transition between the Bronze and the Iron periods. More than a hundred pieces of pottery have been gathered from this cemetery: some of inter-tribal importation, some of local make moulded by hand and baked in an open fire. There is also a flint arrow-head, which must have been kept by the deceased as a talisman or amulet, as a memento of past generations, rather than as a weapon.

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