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Regio III - Insula II - Tempio dei Fabri Navales (III,II,1-2)

The Temple of the Ship-Carpenters was built on top of a fullery. The fullery was excavated in the 1990's, but it had been identified earlier, in 1938-9. It consisted of two courtyards, one behind and one below the temple, surrounded by rooms. The building phases could be dated to the second half of the first and to the second century AD (opus mixtum). It stopped functioning when the temple was built, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius or Commodus.

In the floor of the courtyard behind the temple are four very large basins, communicating with one another, and supplied with water through a lead pipe. The fullery contained at least fifty bowls: large pressing-bowls and smaller bowls in which detergents such as the creta fullonica (fuller's earth) were stored. On either side of the pressing-bowls were small walls (hand-rests). There were no bowls along the back wall, where masonry bases were found, used for beating cloth. In the centre of the back wall is a niche, which contained a statue of a deity.

The later building is entered through a corridor between two shops. In front of the temple is a courtyard surrounded by a portico with brick piers. The portico near the entrance is extra wide, and supported by two additional piers. Here were found a black-and-white mosaic with geometrical motifs and a ship (much damaged), and inscriptions referring to the guild of the fabri navales (ship-carpenters or ship-builders). One of the inscriptions (on a base for a statue) is a dedication to a patron of the guild, P. Martius Philippus, from the late second century AD (AE 1955, 177):

P(ublio) MARTIO QVI[r(ina)]
PHILIPPO
CVRATORI VIAE PRAE[nesti]NAE
AEDILICIO CVRVLI V(iatori) Q(uaestori) A[b aer]ARIO
TRIBVNO FABRVM NAV[alium Port]ENS(ium)
PLEBES CORPORIS [fabrum naval]IVM
OSTIENS(ium) QVI[bus ex s(enatus) c(onsulto) coire li]CET
PATRONO [optim]O
S(ua) P(ecunia) P(osuit)

The temple was built on a high podium, and was reached along marble steps. In the front part of the podium, below the pronaos, was a room that could be reached through a door in the left side wall. In front of the temple, in the courtyard, was a rectangular basin. The area behind the temple (c. 16 x 14.50) was flanked by porticoes and could be used by the guild as meeting-hall.

Ostia and Portus each had its own guild of ship-carpenters (analyzed by Konen). The guilds had hundreds of members, which suggests that ships were not only repaired in the harbours, but also built. The fabri navales must have worked together with several other guilds, such as that of the stuppatores (for more information see the Officina Stuppatoria (I,X,3)).

In the courtyard 47 columns, 20 bases and several capitals were found, not finished yet. They are of marble from the Greek island Thasos. On some of the columns the name Volusianus v(ir) c(larissimus) was found. They belong to the second half of the fourth or the first half of the fifth century: this man was either C. Ceionius Rufus Volusianus Lampadius, praefectus Urbi in 365-366 AD, or his nephew, praefectus praetorio in 429 AD. He may have lived in the Domus dei Dioscuri (III,IX,1). The columns were stored here to be used in building projects of Volusianus, one of which was the adjacent Basilica Cristiana, where columns with his name were used. The fact that many columns were never used may be related to the invasion by Gaeseric and the Vandals in 455 AD.

Plan of the temple

Plan of the temple. After SO I.

Plan of the area in front of the temple

Plan of the area in front of the temple,
with location of columns, bases and capitals.
From De Ruyt 1995, fig. 1.

Photographs



The temple seen from the south-east (Schola del Traiano). Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.


Reconstruction drawing by Italo Gismondi. Sopr. Arch. di Ostia, neg. B 1567.


The remains of the fullery behind the temple, seen from the east. From De Ruyt 2001, fig. 3.


Marble columns, stored in the building in late antiquity. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.


Marble columns, stored in the building in late antiquity. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.


The inscription VOLVSIANIVC on one of the marble columns. Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.


The excavation of the marble columns (1938). Pensabene 1998, fig. 19.


Funeral inscription (CIL XIV, 321) of P. Celerius Amandus.
He died at the age of 18. The tools below the inscription
(ruler, carpenter's axe, compasses, two rudders) show
that he was a shipbuilder. Photograph: Eric Taylor.


P(ublio) CELERIO P(ubli) F(ilio) PAL(atina) AMANDO
D(ecreto) D(ecurionum) DECVRIO ADLECTVS HVNC
DECVRIONES FVNERE PVBLICO EF
FERENDVM CENSVERVNT EIQVE
HONORES OMNES DECREVERVNT
ET TVRIS P(ondo) XX PATER HONORE VSVS
IMPENSAM REMISIT VIXIT ANNOS XIIX
MENSES XI DIES XIIX P(ublius) CELERIVS P(ubli) LIBERTVS
CHRYSEROS ET SCANTIA LANTHANVSA PARENTES
FECERVNT SIBI ET SVIS LIBERTIS LIBERTABVS POSTERISQVE
EORVM



Fragment of an inscription mentioning the Fabri Navales.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker

[jthb - 10-Apr-2003]