Hang out your shingle in Ostia Antica

by Annie

IMG_20130210_124733For most of the time while visiting Ancient Rome’s port town, you’re looking out and up, all around you at the breadth of visual clues and archaeological remains. At very few other sites is one able to imagine what a Roman town and daily life was like 2,000 years ago.

Here are the warehouses that stored the goods… now you’re in a residential neighborhood, Roman condos if you will, lucky tenants these that have a nice balcony that looks onto the street! And there’s the theater. The forum.. the gym and bath-houses… it’s all here, commerce, domestic life, government, health and sports, culture, and so on.

IMG_20130210_125905And when you aren’t looking up and out, your nose is pointed downwards at the incredible mosaics that cover so much of the public spaces, and quite a few private homes too. (Was the mosaicist who added color ostracized or acclaimed as a genius!?)

No matter what, it is nice to see this much attention given to elegance and graphic design. The mosaics cover everything from general decorative motifs, to the underfoot equivalent of street signs.

For example, as you walked under the portico that constitutes the large piazza delle corporazioni, you would look at the floor mosaics… if you were in the market for wood, you would want to find the office with the mosaic out front that read Naviculariorum Lignariorum (Wood Shippers Corporation).

Or if you were in need of shipping to or from what are now the areas of Languedoc and Provence (so called because the Romans named their first transalpine permanent conquest Provincia Nostra or Provincia Romana), you would obviously transact the deal with the good folks over at Navi Narbonenses (the Narbonne Shippers/Line).




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