EAUH Conference 2018


Session SS01. Urban texture of Ostia Antica and Other Mediterranean Harbour Cities of the Roman Empire, 400 BCE – 600 CE

Coordinators: Arja Karivieri (, Katariina Mustakallio (

Urban texture of Ostia Antica and other Mediterranean harbour cities
of the Roman Empire

Organized by: Professor Arja Karivieri, Stockholm University, Sweden (
Senior Lecturer Katariina Mustakallio, University of Tampere, Finland (

The Roman city of Ostia was an arena for multicultural encounters for almost a millennium, because of its important role as the main harbour of the city of Rome. It was visited and inhabited by traders and travellers from across the Roman world. This is, for instance, reflected by the Piazzale delle Corporazioni which housed trading corporations from cities across the whole Mediterranean. The mosaic decoration of these offices depicts symbols that represent urban centres, such as the famous lighthouse of Alexandria and an elephant which symbolises Sabratha in Libya.

Ostia, the focus of this session with its ample combination of archaeological and epigraphical finds as well as its relative topographical stability over time, offers a unique example of how cultural encounters shaped the spaces and social structures of a Roman city. This is not least due to its important role as the city of Rome’s connection to the globalised Mediterranean world. As an important naval base, and port for trans-shipment, storage, and distribution of staple goods it became an international and multicultural city, where people and ideas from the entire Mediterranean world came together.

This session aims to offer an interdisciplinary and comparative understanding of the townscape and the diachronic development of the city as well as the city’s suburban areas (urban edges). We also welcome papers concerning other Mediterranean harbour cities from the comparative perspective. This session asks how different neighbourhoods were connected and experienced by the inhabitants, in what extent did the harbour cities have connections and relation – even competition with each other etc. We encourage papers approaching urban dynamics and the relationship between space and place of the city that may answer questions related to identities, memory and social conditions within ancient urban texture of the Mediterranean harbour cities.
Keywords: Ostia Antica; harbour cities; mediterranean networks; antiquity; townscape and urban edges; connecting people and cultures