Antiquity and Christian Origins
L. Michael White, Director | 1 University Station C3450 | Austin, Texas 78712 | 512.232.1438 | 512.232.1439 fax


OSMAP Home > Preliminary Results > 2003

Report of the 2003 Study Season

Having analyzed all the masonry techniques used in the construction of the synagogue buildings during the previous field season,  the OSMAP team returned to Ostia in 2003 to measure and record other evidence for the uses of opus mixtum A, B, and C at Ostia.  These techniques, in particular, opus mixtum A, had been observed in the construction of several of the walls at IV.17.1-2 (the synagogue area) although none of them could be assigned an absolute date at the time.  The purpose of this year’s field work was to compile a database of measurements taken from comparable Ostian buildings.  The goal was to document techniques used in dated contexts so as to help suggest chronological parameters for the construction phases at IV.17.1-2.  The database of these measurements and the buildings from which they were taken will be made available on-line.

At this time members of the staff were also granted permission to reopen previously excavated but unpublished trenches (= ‘T’) from the 1960s excavations, now designed T Alpha (α) and T Beta (β).  Trench Alpha (α) is located in IV.17.1.12 (the room defined by the central columns).  Trench Beta (β) is located in the southeastern corner of IV.17.1.9.  The goal in cleaning these trenches was to provide architectural drawings and archival photographs of all features exposed but never properly recorded during the 1960s excavations.            Unfortunately, due to overgrown organic matter, none of the balks of Tα (IV.17.1.12) preserved a recognizable stratigraphic profile.

Tβ (IV.17.1.9), on the other hand, revealed two earlier features of the building never reported at the time of its excavation.  The first of these is the remains of a threshold and doorway, both of which predate the fourth-century mosaic floor in room 10.  Adjacent to this earlier threshold was also discovered the foundation of a supporting pier, or wall spur, which originally projected c. 0.15 m into the room (room 9).  Although the current evidence for the separation of rooms 9 and 10 does replicate this same division of space, the removal of the pier, or wall spur, in the later phase suggests a slight remodeling of the earlier space.  Unfortunately, the absence of any stratified ceramic or numismatic evidence from this previous excavation has cautioned against assigning an absolute date to these earlier phases of the buildings.

inally, a preliminary field-walking survey of the site was made to discuss future areas of excavation and research.  The team noticed the damaged remains of a reticulate wall, never recorded on any plan of the buildings at IV.17.1, located at the southeast corner of IV.17.1.10, directly to the north of the modern highway (via della Scafa).  This wall appears to abut the exterior wall of IV.17.1.10, suggesting that it was constructed at a later time.  Further excavation, pending approved, is planned to investigate the relationship between this wall and the extant remains of the building.


Synagogue Area Numbered
Plan of the Buildings at IV.17.1-3 [CLICK TO ENLARGE]

Synagogue Top Plan
Plan of the Buildings at IV.17.1-2 [CLICK TO ENLARGE]


L. Michael White, Susan Gelb, Darius Arya, Douglas Boin, Dora Cirone, Alessio De Cristofaro, Marzia Di Mento


L. Michael White, Susan Gelb, and Douglas Boin (2003).


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UPDATED 4.20.2010 DRB