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Regio III - Insula VIII - Terme Marittime (III,VIII,2)

The Maritime Baths have the wrong name. In the past it was believed that they are identical with the Thermae Maritimae mentioned in CIL XIV, 137. That inscription must refer to the Terme di Porta Marina (IV,X,1-2) however. Part of the city wall was destroyed for the construction of the baths, c. 130 AD (opus mixtum). Heated rooms in the east part were added c. 210 AD (opus latericium). The latest modifications have been dated to the fourth century. At an unknown point in time two lime-kilns were installed in the ruins. Late burials of a least five children in amphorae were found in the west half.

Probably Gavin Hamilton had already been digging here in the second half of the 18th century. The east part was excavated in the second half of the 19th century, the west part in the years 1968-1971 by Veloccia Rinaldi. The entrances and facades have not yet been excavated.



Plan of the baths. Scrinari-Ricciardi 1996, II, fig. 196.

Room A contains three furnaces. To the north-west is a large, heated swimming-pool (natatio B; 13.25 x 7.80 m.). It was reached from room G along a marble staircase. On the north-west side four steps lead to the pool, on the other sides is one step or ridge. In the floor is a large hole (diam. 4 m.). According to Paschetto, writing in 1912, a fountain was placed here, fastened with iron bars. Veloccia Rinaldi does not discuss the hole. In June 2007 Prof. M. de Vos suggested, on the Ostia mailing list, that it contained a bronze cauldron for boiling water, referring to parallels such as the natationes of the S. Marco Villa at Stabiae, of the Terme Suburbane at Herculaneum, and of the Villa Giulia at Ventotene. In the long walls are rectangular and semicircular niches. The walls were decorated with white marble. Room G is an antechamber of room B. It may have been an apodyterium. A fragment of a mosaic with two boxers was found here. One has the crown of victory on his head.

Rooms D, E and F were heated. The walls were decorated with coloured marble. Room D has a mosaic of Oceanus and Tritons, room E of Oceanus and Nereids on marine monsters. Room F has a curved wall. The mosaic floor in this room has largely disappeared since the excavation in the 19th century. In the apse a mosaic was found of Neptune, Amphitrite and winged cupids. In the remainder of the room was a mosaic of a trumpeter below a lamp or crown, vases on tables, boxing cupids, a victorious cupid holding a palm branch, and two athletes on either side of a prize table. On the prize table are a vessel and perhaps two boxing gloves. A palm branch is leaning against the table. The athlete on the left holds the palm of victory. On his head is a crown. The other athlete holds a smaller palm branch, perhaps the second prize.

Frigidarium H has a marble floor and basins on the short sides. Group I may have been dressing rooms. Room K was probably connected with an entrance. In the west part of the building is corridor L, with an east-west and north-south branch, separated by a late wall. The north-south branch leads to the sea. To the north of the corridor are the remains of the city wall (M). Room N has a curved back wall with a tripartite window, later blocked. On the floor a mosaic was found of Nereids on marine monsters, and perhaps Amphitrite. On the vault were Severan paintings with vegetative motifs and mythological figures, on the walls paintings from late antiquity, imitating marble. Room Z was an antechamber of N, with a geometric mosaic floor and painted walls.

Room O was a service corridor. In understairs P paintings on a yellow background were found. In hall Q are rows of piers. In the two rooms R paintings of red geometric motifs on a white background were found. Area T seems to have been the palaestra. The cluster of rooms U-V-W consists of rooms used for the water supply, a latrine and two late lime kilns. Corridor X, near the sea, is at a lower level. Finally we may note service corridors C and Y, and service area Y with furnaces.


Photographs



Room G, mosaic of athletes.
Newby 2002, fig. 4 (Sopr. Arch. di Ostia, neg. A 1558).



Room F, the mosaic floor, seen from the south-west (today largely destroyed).
Newby 2002, fig. 3.



Room F, detail of the prize table.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



Room F, detail of the prize table.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



Room F, detail of the prize table.
SO IV, Tav. CX.



Room E, mosaic of Oceanus and Nereids on marine monsters.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



Room D, mosaic of Oceanus and Tritons.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



Room D, detail of Oceanus.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.



Room D, detail of a Triton.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.



Room D, detail of a Triton.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.



Room B, seen from the south.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



Room B, the hole for a fountain or rather a bronze cauldron in the floor, seen from the north.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

[jthb - 17-Jun-2007]