Friday, March 6, 2015

The News from Portus

For years now archaeologists have been investigating Portus, the artificial port at the mouth of the Tiber that served as the gateway to Rome during its height. I wrote about this project a few years ago, should you be curious. Anyway, I just discovered from this list of archaeological discoveries that the Portus crew have an important theory. They find that Portus did not undergo a long, slow decline, but disappeared suddenly in the sixth century, and that some of its great buildings seem to have been purposely destroyed:
Archaeologists from the University of Southampton, who are excavating the Portus site, have a theory as to what happened. “By the sixth century, the Byzantines felt the port could be a threat as it was vulnerable to being occupied by the Ostrogoths, so they took the decision to destroy it themselves,” said Simon Keay, who headed the dig. Rather than allow their enemies to dock in the great port, archaeologists believe the Byzantines flattened the structures, methodically pulling down each pillar and wall until nothing usable remained.
Very interesting, if it turns out to be true, and more evidence for the view that it was the long war between the Ostrogoths and Justinian's armies that led to the collapse of Roman Italy and Italy's entrance into the Dark Ages.

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