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Regio II - Insula VII - Piazzale delle Corporazioni (II,VII,4)

The Square of the Corporations is famous because of its many references to trade, and to the cities and countries from which goods were transported to Rome. A complete description with many photographs is found at the end of this page.
The square is situated behind the Theatre. Around the remaining three sides runs a porticus, containing many small rooms. In and in front of these rooms many black-and-white mosaics have been preserved, with symbols and texts referring to trade. Marble inscriptions were also present, one of which has survived (NAVICVLARI AFRICANI). The marble inscriptions may have been the only inscription in a room, but they may also have supplemented the mosaic inscriptions.
The inscriptions mention guilds (collegia and corpora), shippers (navicularii) and traders (negotiantes). There are also many depictions of dolphins, ships and the lighthouse at Portus. Grain-measures (pecks) refer to the grain trade.
The function of the square remains uncertain. The most likely hypothesis is, that the rooms were commercial offices (stationes), where the transport of goods and passengers was discussed. Visitors to the Theatre presumably strolled through the porticus. Therefore it has also been suggested that the rooms were 'advertisements', allowed when money had been paid for the restoration of the Theatre and for the entertainment. However, this hypothesis leaves the presence of the little rooms unexplained, and is not supported by the (relatively low) quality of many of the mosaics.

Plans:
  • The rooms (stationes) are numbered going from the south-east to the north-east, from the north-east to the north-west, and then from the north-west to the south-west.
  • Plan (after Becatti, SO IV, fig. 19; numbers corrected following G. Calza, Il Piazzale ..., 1915, fig. 1; north is up).
  • Plan, identical to the preceding plan, but with indication of trades and places.
  • Phase I
    The Piazzale delle Corporazioni (Square of the Guilds or Corporations) was built together with the Theatre, in the early Augustan period. Originally it measured 107 x 78 meters, and had an outside wall of opus reticulatum. There was a monumental entrance in the north part, towards the Tiber. On three sides was a covered corridor.

    Phase II
    During the reign of Claudius the level was raised, and a porticus was built of one row of brick columns on travertine bases. Fifty rooms may have been separated by wooden partitions, but it is also quite possible that there were no rooms, and that the porticus was a straightforward porticus post scaenam, a standard porticus behind a theatre. In the porticus mosaics were placed. Four of these have been preserved (in rooms 52, 53, 57, 58).

    Phase III
    In the period of Domitian a temple (II,VII,5) was erected in the centre of the square, facing the theatre. The area around the temple may have been a garden, adorned with statues.

    Phase IV
    In the period of Hadrian the level of the square and the porticus was raised some 40 centimeters (the dating results from excavations in the 1980's). The entrance at the north end was closed, and the porticus was doubled. As in the period of Claudius, rooms may have been created by wooden partitions, but this remains uncertain. Some mosaics at a higher level (especially in the north-west part) may be contemporaneous or a little later.

    Phase V
    Most mosaics at the higher level were installed later than the period of Hadrian, presumably in the period Hadrian - Commodus (Becatti in SO IV dates most mosaics to the period 190-200 AD; when he wrote, the Hadrianic changes to the square were dated in the period of Commodus). In this period the porticus had some 60 rooms. It should be remembered that the Theatre was rebuilt by Commodus, and inaugurated by Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla, in 196 AD.

    Phase VI
    The mosaics were restored and altered in antiquity. In the Severan period or in the third century dividing masonry walls (opus vittatum) were set on top of the mosaics. They may have replaced wooden partitions.

    20th century
    In the 20th century the mosaics have been restored. Sometimes inscriptions were altered incorrectly, as is shown by old photographs.

    Photographs by:
  • [JThB] = Jan Theo Bakker
  • [BT] = Bill Thayer
  • [ET] = Eric Taylor
  • [MS] = Melissa Sellers
  • [SS] = Silvano Sanges
  • [BS] = Bill Storage-Laura Maish
  • General views:
  • The northern porticus, from the west [JThB]
  • The western porticus, from the north [JThB]
  • The eastern porticus, from the north [JThB]
  • Inscriptions on pedestals:
  • NSc 1953, 285, n. 44 (marble slab, w. 1.41, found in the east porticus, with text NAVICVLARI AFRICANI) [JThB]
  • CIL XIV, 154 [BS]
  • CIL XIV, 161 [ET]
  • CIL XIV, 172 [ET]
  • CIL XIV, 374 [JThB]
  • CIL XIV, 390 [JThB]
  • CIL XIV, 391 [ET]
  • CIL XIV, 4140 [ET]
  • CIL XIV, 4319 [JThB]
  • CIL XIV, 4620 [JThB]
  • AE 1913, 189 [ET]
  • AE 1913, 190 [JThB]
  • Inscription [ET]
  • Inscription [ET]
  • Inscription [ET]
  • Inscription [ET]
  • A summary of G. Becatti's description and analysis, SO IV, 64-85:

    Statio 1 Statio 2 Statio 3
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 1:
    1. c)LODIVS PRIMIGENIVS
    2. cl)AVDIVS CRESCENS Q Q
    3. STVPPATORES RES(tione)S
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: traders in flax and rope.
    Photograph [BT]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 2:
    1. CORPVS PEL
    2. LION(um) OST(iensium) ET POR
    3. TE(nsium) HIC
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: traders in leather, furriers.
    Photograph [BT] (badly restored T in third line)
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 3:
    1. NAVICVLARIORVM LIGNARIORVM
    Mosaic: lighthouse - two ships.
    Trade: navicularii of wood.
    Photograph [SS] | Detail incl. text [ET]
    Statio 4 Statio 5 Statio 6
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 4:
    1. N[avic]V(lariorum) [f]ARR[i]C(orum) ?
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: traders of grain, spelt?
    Photograph [ET] | Detail of text [ET] (N and part of ?F now destroyed)
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: male figure with grain measure and rutellum (a little shovel).
    Trade: grain.
    Photograph [BS] | Photograph [SS]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: geometric design.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [ET]
    Statio 7 Statio 8 Statio 9
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: grain measure and rutellum.
    Trade: grain.
    Photograph [SS]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: two dolphins.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [SS]
    Statio 10 Statio 11 Statio 12
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 10:
    1. NAVICVLARI MISVENSES HIC
    Mosaic: two ships - two dolphins - grain measure or tower? - two fishes.
    Trade: navicularii Misuenses (Misua was situated to the east of Carthago).
    Photograph [SS] | Text and ship [ET] | Tower and fish [ET]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 11:
    1. NAVICVLARI MV[s]LV[vit]A[ni] HIC ?
    Mosaic: winged amorino on dolphin - two dolphins - two female busts (Summer and Spring or Fall? Symbols of Africa and grain trade?).
    Trade: shippers from Musluvium, in Mauretania Sitifensis?
    Photograph [SS] | Detail of text and bust [ET]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 12:
    1. NAVICVLAR[i H(ippone)] DIARRY(to)?
    and
    1. ]SIM C[
    Mosaic: two dolphins.
    Trade: navicularii from Hippo Diarrytus, to the west of Carthago?
    Photograph [SS] | Photograph [BT] (IORVM is a modern restoration)
    Statio 13 Statio 14 Statio 15
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 14:
    1. STAT SABRATENSIVM
    Mosaic: elephant.
    Trade: traders from Sabrata (Libya) in wild animals and/or ivory.
    Photograph [BT] | Detail of text [BT] | Photograph [ET]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 15:
    1. NAVICVLAR ET NEGOTIAN DE SVO
    Mosaic: ship.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [SS]
    Statio 16 Statio 17 Statio 18
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 16:
    1. NAVICVLARI ET NEGOTIANTES DE SVO
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [SS]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 17:
    1. NAVICVLARI GVMMITANI DE SVO
    Mosaic: grain measure - two little branches (grain-ears?).
    Trade: grain; navicularii from Gummi; two cities in Africa were called Gummi: one near Carthago, one in Byzacium.
    Photograph [SS] | Detail of leaf between NAVICVLARI and GVMMITANI [BT]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 18:
    1. NAVICVL KARTHAG DE SVO
    Mosaic: two ships - a fish - a small boat - lighthouse?
    Trade: navicularii from Carthago.
    Photograph [SS] | Detail of text and ships [BS]
    Statio 19 Statio 20 Statio 21
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 19:
    1. NAVIC TVRRITANI
    Mosaic: grain measure? - ship.
    Trade: probably shippers from Turris Libisonis (Porto Torres, Sardinia).
    Photograph [SS]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 20, a-e:
    a. PVLVNE (vocative of name of dog?); mosaic of dog.
    b. SIMPLICI; mosaic: crater - crosses - little ship - incomprehensible (ships?).
    c. CRESCES; mosaic of horse.
    d. AVRE(lius).
    e. VRSAV; mosaic: ship - cross.
    Mosaic: see above; much restored.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [JThB] | Detail [ET] | Detail of dog [ET] | Detail of SIMPLICI [ET] | Detail of CRESCES [BT]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 21:
    1. NAVICVL ET NEGOTIANTES
    2. KARALITANI
    Mosaic: ship - two grain measures.
    Trade: grain; navicularii from Carales (Cagliari, Sardinia).
    Photograph [BS]
    Statio 22 Statio 23 Statio 24
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: front part: little branch - two dolphins; back part: two dolphins - lighthouse.
    Trade: -.
    Dolphins and lighthouse [MS] | Photograph [SS]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 23:
    1. N F (NE(gotiantes)? N(aviculariis) F(eliciter)?)
    2. [navic]VLARI SYLLECTI[ni]
    Mosaic: lighthouse - two ships - two dolphins - octopus.
    Trade: navicularii from Sullectum (Africa, Byzacium).
    Photograph [ET] | Detail [BS] (N restored to M, I added to beginning of line 2)
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Statio 25 Statio 26 Statio 27
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: transferring cargo (amphorae) from one ship to another - dolphin.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [ET] | Detail of left part [ET] | Detail of right part [ET]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: lighthouse.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [JThB]
    Inscription: -
    Mosaic: two dolphins - river with ship-bridge - delta with three mouths - two arch-like structures. Date: c. 150 AD.
    Trade: depicted is the Tiber, or, more likely, the Nile. Egypt provided grain and wild animals.
    Drawing (NSc 1914, p. 286) | Lower part (delta) [SS] | Upper part (bridge) [JThB]
    Statio 28 Statio 29-31 Statio 32
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: elephant - deer - boar. Date: c. 150 AD.
    Trade: wild animals; probably originally connected with the preceding room, and with 26.
    Photograph [SS] | Detail of boar [BT] | Detail of deer [BT] | Detail of elephant [BT]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 32:
    1. ]NARBONENSES
    Mosaic: ship - tower / lifting device / crane? - dolphin.
    Trade: traders from Narbo Martius (Gallia).
    Drawing (NSc 1916, p. 327) | Photograph [SS] | Detail [JThB] | Detail [JThB] (NAVI is a modern addition)
    Statio 33 Statio 34 Statio 35
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: grain measure - rutellum - amphora.
    Trade: grain and ?
    Photograph [JThB]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 34:
    1. S(tatio) N(egotiatorum) F(rumentariorum) C(oloniae) C(urbitanae)
    and
    1. NAVICVLARI CVRBITANI D(e) S(uo)
    Mosaic: grain measure - two dolphins.
    Trade: grain; navicularii from Colonia Iulia Curubis (Kurba, Tunisia).
    Photograph (first part of text) [ET] | Photograph (second part) [ET] | Photograph [SS]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: dolphin - lighthouse.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [JThB]
    Statio 36 Statio 37 Statio 38
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 37:
    1. F FV
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [JThB]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 38, a-b:
    a. S(tatio) C(orporis) F(rumentariorum) (or: F(eliciter)?)
    b. PE(trus?) (destroyed)
    Mosaic: two grain measures - rutellum.
    Trade: grain; much restored; Christian reference?
    Photograph [SS] | Detail of a. and grain measures [BT] (a modern restoration moved the C to the right)
    Statio 39 Statio 40 Statio 41
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 40:
    1. [naviculariorum ale]XANDRIN[orum]
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: navicularii from Alexandria.
    Drawing (NSc 1920, p. 166, fig. 7) | Photograph [ET]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Statio 42 Statio 43 Statio 44
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 42:
    1. curatores n]AVIVM D[e suo?
    2. N
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [BT]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 43:
    1. c]ODICARI DE SVO
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: corpus codicariorum, i.e. Tiber-shippers.
    Photograph [SS] (the first C is modern)
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Statio 45 Statio 46 Statio 47

    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: two ships.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [SS]

    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: lighthouse - two ships - dolphin.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [SS] | Detail [BS]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: two ships - little branch.
    Trade: -.
    Two ships [MS] | Little branch [ET]
    Statio 48 Statio 49 Statio 50
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 48:
    1. M(auretania) C(aesariensis)
    Mosaic: two date-palms - amphora - three fishes.
    Trade: traders from Mauretania Caesariensis (Algeria).
    Photograph [SS] | Detail of palms and amphora [BS]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: lighthouse - two ships - dolphin; Nereid sitting on sea-creature.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [MS] | Detail of Nereid [ET]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: Nereid sitting on sea-creature.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [SS]
    Statio 51 + statio 52 Statio 52, lower level Statio 53
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: two ships with amphorae - two dolphins.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [SS] | Detail of ship going to the right [JThB]
    Inscription: -
    Mosaic: hunting-scene (venatio): hunter, bull.
    Trade: this mosaic is at the Claudian level and may not refer to commercial activity.
    Photograph with difference in level [SS] | Photograph [BT]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: grain measure.
    Trade: grain.
    Photograph [BT]
    Statio 53 , lower level Statio 54 Statio 55
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: Nereid - sea-horse - two dolphins.
    Trade: this mosaic is at the Claudian level and may not refer to commercial activity.
    Photograph with difference in level [SS] | Photograph [BS]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: front part: two ships; back part: geometric design.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [SS] | Detail of ships [ BS]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 55:
    1. ]O M S[
    Mosaic: front part: grain measure - rutellum - ship; back part: geometric design (identical to 54).
    Trade: grain.
    Detail of grain measure [BT] | Detail of ship [BT]
    Statio 56 Statio 57 Statio 57, lower level
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: grain measure with three grain-ears.
    Trade: grain.
    Photograph [BT]
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: Artemis - deer.
    Trade: this mosaic is at the Claudian level and may not refer to commercial activity.
    Photograph [ET]
    Statio 58 Statio 58, lower level Statio 59-61
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: geometric design.
    Trade: -.
    Photograph [JThB]
    Inscription, CIL XIV, 4549, 58:
    1. S(tuppatores) R(estiones) ?
    Mosaic: double comb, flax and ?
    Trade: this mosaic is at the Claudian level; cf. nr. 1.
    Drawing (NSc 1914, p. 73)
    Inscription: -.
    Mosaic: -.
    Trade: -.