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The University of Southampton
Archaeology Part of Humanities

Italian Minister of Culture visits Roman port of Portus

Published: 25 July 2014
Image of Italian Minister

Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini has visited the ongoing archaeological excavations, led by the University of Southampton, at Portus – the ancient port of Rome - in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma and the British School at Rome. He toured the site near Rome and viewed students working as part of the second season of the Portus Field School run by the University.

The Minister was accompanied by the Soprintendente per i Beni Archeologici di Roma, Mariarosaria Barbera, the Mayor of Fiumicino, the Duke Ascanio Sforza Cesarini and members of the Italian media. They visited the excavation sites of the remains of the Imperial Palace (Palazzo Imperiale) and the Trajanic shipyards. The group also saw the recently unearthed 5th c AD opus sectile (or patterned) pavements at the palace and the extraordinary remains of the floor surface at the shipyard.

During his tour the Minister made a public statement about the national importance of Portus and the need for a coordinated national plan to ensure its future management and public access.

Director of the Portus Project , the University of Southampton’s Professor Simon Keay comments: “This visit is recognition of the growing national and international profile of Portus, stemming from over eight years of excavation at the site. It was a wonderful opportunity to share some of the work our academics and students have been doing at this fascinating archaeological site, which as a thriving Roman port, was crucial to the survival of Imperial Rome.

Professor Keay has been studying the archaeology of Portus since 1998 and in recent years has led a series of excavations undertaken by the Portus Project. The Minister’s visit coincides with the conclusion of an extraordinarily successful first iteration of the Portus MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) – online learning which is free for anyone to sign up to. The course has already attracted up to 8000 learners from around the world.

The Portus Project is an example of one of the University’s world-leading research and enterprise activities. To learn more about our connections changing the world, visit:

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