Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mosaics in Ostia

Ostia has lots of mosaics.  They are mostly monochrome, and they are said to be partially the creation of their restorers.  Also, it would help if they got a quick swish of soap and water now and again, like much of Italian archaeology the place suffers from inertia and lack of funds.  If the Soprintendenza happens to read this I could give him/her a list of Roman fans willing to live on site for various stretches of time and willing to do a bit of light housework.  Put my name on the top.

Ostia is another one of those sites where even the well prepared will become disoriented.  So like my post on the Forum I will not attempt any comprehensive discussion.  Just a few of what I call "Shiny-Pretties", which as I said, could be a bit shinier.

This is from "The Baths of the Coachmen".  These guys were a guild of sorts and had the job of transporting passengers from Ostia up to Rome.  Cargo went, one assumes, by barge.  Here we have preserved for the ages the names of two mules.  PUDES - "Modest" and (I think) BAROROSUS - "Silly".

A nice little decorative touch from the floor of a fish shop.  The inscription reads "Envious One, I tread on you."  Dolphins were held to be the friend of sea going man, and the octopus he is chomping on represented the dangers of the depths.

Sometimes you have a problem of scale showing these things but in the case of The Baths of Neptune there is a nice observation point.  It is has large mosaic floor with all manner of sea critters.

The so called Square of the Corporations occupies a central point.  These seem to have been the offices of various businesses and consortia that operated out of Ostia.  Since most of these were connected with the maritime trade you get recurring themes. This first one is dedicated to NAVICUL(ARII) ET NEGOITIANTES KARALITANI. the shipowners and merchants of Cagliari.

NAVICULARIS GUMMITANI DE SUO the merchants of the North African city of Gumma.  They dealt in grain as represented by this modius, or grain measure.  De Suo means they did this at their own expense.  Government subsidy for businesses being perhaps less of a deal back then.

A nice picture of fish, palm trees and an amphora.

A nice little bird, found in a back corner of one of the many seldom visited residential buildings.  I am planning on going back with some of my digging cronies one day.  We will hide out at closing time and camp over night in the place!

I did have this Visitor's Guide to work off of on my trip to Ostia, but it was not enough.  Next time, perhaps I would even spring for an audio guide.  Perhaps if my offer to be an early morning mosaic cleaner is accepted I could even be an unpaid tour guide for other pilgrims.  The unprepared miss so much.  For instance I never did find the painting of the Seven Greek Sages with graffiti of them making crude observations about each other!

Here is an overview of all the advertising mosaics in the Square.  Worth a look for their remarkable diversity.

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