University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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The Hinterland of Portus. Integrated Analysis of Geophysical Survey Data and Remotely Sensed Imagery in the Tiber Delta
Kristian David Strutt, Simon Keay, Martin Millett, Gregory Tucker

Last modified: 2012-03-17


Recent study under the Portus Project (; has provided the opportunity to look at the pattern and extent of natural and man-made features across the Tiber delta as a whole.  The area represents one of the most prominent coastal zones on the west coast of Italy, and forms an important area of past and present human activity from the early Neolithic onwards. The aims of the present research are to understand the effect of human influence on the natural environment, and assess the establishing of patterns of settlement in relation to the changing geomorphology of the delta. An integrated strategy of analysis and fieldwork has been conducted, with assessment of air photographs held by the ICCD, and access to remotely sensed satellite data to map the archaeology and geomorphology of the area. Extensive fieldwork has also been conducted between 2008 and 2011 across the Isola Sacra in the central area of the delta, principally using magnetometry to map at high resolution all archaeological features over an area of 150 hectares. This is in addition to previous fieldwork between 1998 and 2006, where over 220 hectares of the Roman port and its immediate surroundings were mapped. Results of this integrated strategy have revealed a number of extensive features related to the natural development of the delta, and to past human interaction with the landscape. They include a map of the prograding deposits across the central portion of the delta, and patterns of deposit associated with the meandering course of the Tiber, together with man-made channels and field divisions, and a later complex of canals associated with connecting the Roman port at Portus with the river Tiber and the sea. Recent discoveries also indicate possible connections between the port and the town of Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber.


Geophysical Survey; Air Photographs; Landscapes;Data Integration