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Regio II - Porta Romana

The Porta Romana or Roman Gate belongs to the city walls of the first century BC. Visitors from Rome followed the Via Ostiensis and entered Ostia through this gate. It was excavated in 1911.

The original gate was at a much lower level than the present level. It was made of large tufa blocks, and consisted of two rooms. Grooves for wooden doors were found on the east side (the outer side). On either side of the gate is a square tower, with sides of six metres.

During the reign of Domitian (81-96 AD) the level was raised, and the gate rebuilt. Marble architectural decoration was added. Large inscriptions on either side recorded the building history of the gate (for details see the topic The city walls). A statue of the winged Minerva-Victoria, found on the nearby Piazzale della Vittoria, formed part of the decoration of the upper part. Minerva was the favourite goddess of Domitian.

To the north-east of the gate is the so-called Cippus of Salus Augusti. It was found in 1910. It is a marble base for a statue (1.20 x 1.20 x 1.05), with the inscription:

GLABRIO PATRONVS COLONIAE D(ecreto) D(ecurionum) F(aciundum) C(uravit)

On top of the base was a statue of Salus Augusti, the Health of the Emperor (a woman with a snake). It was erected by a member of a well-known Ostian family, the Acilii Glabriones. He was patron of the colony. The base is at the lower level, and was installed in the first half of the first century AD, when an Emperor visited Ostia. Here we may think of Claudius, who was a frequent visitor of Ostia when the harbour at Portus was built.

Plan of the gate. From SO I, fig. 25.

Photographs and drawings

The lower part of the south side of the gate, seen from the north-west.

Remains of the Domitianic marble decoration of the gate, attached to the north side.
Seen from the south-west.

Fragments of one of the Domitianic inscriptions, with modern additions.
Photograph: Laura Maish-Bill Storage.

The statue of Minerva-Victoria.

The Cippus of Salus Augusti.

Reconstruction drawing of the gate, seen from the east, by Italo Gismondi.
From Zevi 1998, fig. 18.

[jthb - 22-Nov-2003; photographs: Jan Theo Bakker unless indicated otherwise]