Figure 1: Forum of Pompeii through Mount Vesuvius1

Recently among our members post a blog post on the Facebook web page of roman Ports about the many world who had actually fled Pompeii in time and thereby survived the eruption that Vesuvius. I check out the piece and saw that several survivors eventually settled in Puteoli, a roman port city ~ above the Gulf of Napoli (read "The ports of Campi Flegrei"). Because of the last fact, ns announced that the short article had to be approved. The article had miscellaneous to carry out with roman inn ports, albeit via a detour. I got instantly the following response: Pompeii itself to be a roman port city too.I supplied to read numerous stories about Pompeii and devour movies. And indeed there was frequently talk about the occupants who fled to the harbour to escape the rain the fire, stones and also ash native the eruption. I did not pay much attention to the harbour at the time, centregalilee.com did no yet exist.After the abovementioned discussion, I decided to walk deeper into the matter and also to look at what type of port it is once we talk around Pompeii. Without a doubt we would certainly deal below with a flow port and not a sea port, but because we recently decided to include the roman inn river ports, appropriate to trade, here is the report of mine research:

Harbour, five harbour, where are thou?

Figure 3: Porta Marina2

Before considering the location of the port, it is useful to find out an initial something about the city itself.

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Pompeii The surname Pompeii would have come indigenous the Oscan3 word for five, pompe, which argues that the city included either five hamlets or was founded by five family members tribes (gens Pompeia). Pompeii was built about 40 meters over the sea on a lava plateau follow me the shore that was developed by earlier eruptions of the volcano mountain Vesuvius, 8 kilometres away. The city bordered the Sarno River, the mouth the which to be navigable in old times and provided with lagoons that offered as a safe sanctuary for the Etruscan and Phoenician sailors from the time. Soil research below the Samnite and also Roman structures has displayed that the southwestern component of the city, between the so-called Foro Triangolare and also the Porta Marina, to be the oldest part of the city.

According come Strabo4, roughly the fifth century BC, the city to be taken caught by the Samnites from south-central Italy who worked out there. At the time Pompeii was already flourishing, as evidenced by the construction of a small harbour near the mouth that the river. Around 524 BC. The Etruscans worked out in the city and also they also saw the river Sarno together a good communication channel in between the sea and the hinterland.

Figure 3: Warships in a harbour (Pompeian fresco)5

Officially Pompeii was mentioned for the an initial time in 310 BC., throughout the second Samnite war once a roman fleet moored in the Sarno port of Pompei to assault the city the Nocera indigenous there. In ~ the start of the very first century BC. Numerous southern Italian people revolted against Rome in the so-called social War. Likewise Pompeii fought against Rome. The battle was winner in 89 BC. By the Roman basic Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Pompeii became a Roman colony named Colonia Cornelia Veneria Pompeianorum6. As a punishment, a swarm of roman inn veterans was created in the city under the command of a nephew of the general, Publius Sulla. The Oscan, quiet the main language in Pompeii, was then replaced by Latin and also the city became soon Romanized in institutions, architecture and also culture. As already mentioned, Pompeii was now an essential trading ar for products that were brought in and also distributed through sea to Rome or via the adjacent Via Appia to southern Italy7. Legends tell the Pompeii was one of the much more important harbor in the Gulf of neapolitan where neighbouring cities such together Nola, Nuceria and also Aceria would have sent their commodities to Pompeii for transportation throughout the whole empire. Commodities such together olives, olive oil, wine, wool, fish sauce (garum), salt, walnuts, figs, spices, shrimps, silk, wild pets for the arena and slaves to man the thriving farming industry8.

Figure 4: Harbour of Misenum through leaving warship9

All of this came to a sudden end with the eruption of mountain Vesuvius in 79 AD. The last thing we hear about the harbor of Pompeii is the report Pliny the Younger sends out to the Roman historian Tacitus around the fatality of his uncle Pliny the Elder during the eruption the the volcano10: Pliny the Elder had meanwhile been appointed together commander the the roman inn fleet in Misenum, a seaport in the Gulf the Naples. As soon as the eruption of Vesuvius begins, Pliny decides to save as many people as possible with his ships. However, the cannot with the harbour of Pompeii since ash and lava have made the Sarno shallow and also the boats can no much longer move front or backward. Pliny then pipeline his ship and also manages to reach Stabia, wherein he die as a result of suffocation native the warm ejected product in mix with his age and bad health.

The harbour Although assorted old sources, as we observed above, tell united state that the harbor of Pompeii played critical commercial function within the system of neck ports roughly the Mediterranean Sea, increase to today it cannot be said with certainty where this port was specifically located. Today, the excavated city lies much farther indigenous the sea than in old times, but even in roman inn times, Pompeii was not really laying on the sea. The port must thus have been situated in among the lagoons that the Sarno.

Figure 5: The quay(?) through the rock mooring ring 11

Until recently, researchers believed that the port was exterior the Porta Marina, together the surname suggests. The just tangible proof for a port, however, would certainly consist that a wall (quay?) northwest of the Porta Marina with stone rings because that mooring ships (see number 5).In the critical 40 to 50 years, much research has actually been excellent on the Sarno basin, which has actually undergone many transforms over the centuries as result of earthquakes and also volcanic activities. This has never led to concrete proven evidence, just in numerous hypotheses because that the place of a harbour:Stefani & Di Maio12 position the harbour in the mouth of the Sarno, which, incidentally, was located to the north in roman times. Cinque & Russo13on the other hand, still speak in 1986 about the visibility of a bay in which the harbour should have been located at the existing mouth that the river.

Figure 6: hypothesis for 2 ports (after Arkadias)

In 2004, Curti14 said the opportunity of a river port in a lagoon in a bend of the Sarno, southwest of the city (see number 6). This presumption is based on 3 points: 1. The nearby Temple the Venus, a goddess originally linked with the protection of seaports 2. One area through horrea (warehouses) close to the temple 3. The lack of historical finds in this area

Figure 7: holy place of Venus15

According come researchers16, geophysical study at the temple of Venus in ~ a depth that 16-25 meters has displayed that under the lava of 79 AD. Traces of the river have actually been found. Castle thereby protected the presence of a port area along the Sarno close to the holy place of Venus and suggested the visibility of "a 2nd branch that the river" ~ above the south wall surface of the city17. Despite these arguments, countless scientists think till now that there has actually been no energetic branch that the Arno close to the city ever. Ns recently discovered a theory from the French research company Arkadias by Patrizio P. Around the alleged 2nd port the Pompei in ~ the Porta Stabia close to Moregine (see number 6)18. The debates for this hypothesis are the miscellaneous literary resources that speak the the existence of a harbour container in a lagoon south of the city gates. The main axis that Pompeii, i beg your pardon ran from Porta Ercolanum to Porta Stabiae, ran to the area referred to as "Moregine". Just north that Moregine, evidence has been discovered of a sanctuary that Neptune, a divine being related to marine activities. According to Arkadias" hypothesis, the port at the Porta Marina should have had a armed forces character and also that at the Moregine lagoon a commercial one. You can wonder why Pliny had to come native Misenum v ships to relieve civilization if part of the fleet remained in the alleged military port near the Porta Marina already and what can have to be the usage of a second military harbor so close come that large one in Misenum? end the years, researchers have actually assumed that a organic or fabricated branch that the river would have actually run close come the city. The same applied to the presence of any lagoons. In between 2015 and 2017, the college of Padua carried out research right into the area external the walls of Pompeii through the focus on the so-called Sarno or Suburban Bathhouse19. The bathhouse is located between the temple of Venus and also the Foro Triangulare.

The wall with mooring rings the we discussed earlier is located next come this bathhouse and also was currently examined in July 199820. A trench was dug right here that ultimately proved that the wall could never have actually been a quay. The wall surface was 10 meters above sea level. As well as that, drilling native the 2015-17 inspection has shown that there has never to be a branch or lagoon of the Sarno at that location. The soil up to 40 come 50 meters from the city wall surface was supplied by the populace in roman times together a dump site for waste. Civilization are still in the dark about the real function of this wall. In 1959, in a deep bend of the Sarno, the Moregine ar was uncovered. This area was associated to docks follow me the river and there to be probably, at the ar where the road in between Pompei and Stabia overcome the river, a bridge that was mentioned in a Pompeian inscription21. This location would have played a dual role, among passage and one of seaport22, as would certainly correspond come the summary of Pompeii by Strabo in i beg your pardon he web links the advance of the city come the paths from the mainland come the coast23.

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Despite the literary traditions and the plenty of soil investigations, no conclusive proof of a harbour has yet been uncovered along the southern wall of Pompeii. However .... What is not yet have the right to still come. We room looking forward to brand-new research results.