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Regio V - Insula XVII - Ninfeo su Piazzale della Vittoria (V,XVII,2)

To the south of the Decumanus, between the Porta Romana and a secondary gate in the city wall, is a large square, that has been called Square of Victory. A statue of the winged Minerva-Victoria was found here. It is likely that the statue formed part of the decoration of the Porta Romana, that was rebuilt during the reign of Domitian. Minerva was the favourite goddess of Domitian.

On the Decumanus many wheel-ruts can be seen, that are not found however further to the west, beyond the theatre. This indicates that further transport of goods in Ostia was done by slaves or pack-animals, not wagons. To the north of the Decumanus are the Terme dei Cisiarii (Baths of the Coachmen, II,II,3). Here cabs can be seen on a mosaic in the frigidarium. The cabs were presumably stationed on the square.

The dominating structure on the square is a large nymphaeum (V,XVII,2), c. 23 m. long, facing north and south. The two sides are separated by a narrow corridor. The structure was excavated in 1855-57 and 1910. It was built for the most part in the last quarter of the third century (opus latericium and vittatum). Below the nymphaeum the remains were found of a religious building from the first century and of an older nymphaeum (V,XVII,1).

A very large basin faces the Decumanus. Its size suggests a decorative function, but it may also have been used by animals. The opposite side faces a road to the south, the Via della Vittoria, leading to the secondary gate in the city wall. In a very thick wall (c. 2.50) are a large apse (diameter c. 2.40) and a basin. A staircase at the east end (an addition from the first quarter of the fourth century) led to the basin. In the apse is a base for a statue. In front of the apse was a rectangular basin, that has now disappeared. This facade may have been quite high, with niches at higher levels. There are traces of plaster and marble revetment.

Plan of the nymphaeum. After SO I.


The basin facing the Decumanus, seen from the north-west.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

The apse facing the Via della Vittoria, seen from the south-west.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

[jthb - 30-Oct-2006]