Roman Road Discovered In The Venice Lagoon (Archeology)

The discovery of a Roman road submerged in the Venice Lagoon is reported in Scientific Reports this week. The findings suggest that extensive settlements may have been present in the Venice Lagoon centuries before the founding of Venice began in the fifth century.

During the Roman era, large areas of the Venice Lagoon which are now submerged were accessible by land. Roman artifacts have been found in lagoon islands and waterways, but the extent of human occupation of the lagoon during Roman times has been unclear.

Mapping the lagoon floor using sonar, Fantina Madricardo and colleagues discovered 12 archaeological structures aligned in a northeasterly direction for 1,140 meters, in an area of the lagoon known as the Treporti Channel. The structures were up to 2.7 meters tall and 52.7 meters long. Previous surveys of the Treporti Channel uncovered stones similar to paving stones used by Romans during road construction, indicating that the structures may be aligned along a Roman road. The researchers also discovered an additional four structures in the Treporti Channel that were up to four meters tall and 134.8 meters long. Based on its dimensions and similarity to structures discovered in other areas, the largest of these structures is thought to be a potential harbor structure, such as a dock. Previously collected geological and modeling data indicates that the road is located on a sandy ridge that was above sea level during the Roman era but is now submerged in the lagoon.

The findings suggest that a permanent settlement may have been present in the Treporti Channel during the Roman era. The authors propose that the road may have been linked to a wider network of Roman roads in the Italian Veneto Region and may have been used by travelers and sailors to journey between what is now the city of Chioggia and the Northern Venice Lagoon.

Archaeology: Roman road discovered in the Venice lagoon
High resolution bathymetry of the Treporti Channel (The numbers 1 to 12 indicate the alignment of structures. The letters a to d identify other structures found in the area. The zoom-in pictures show the detail of some of the archaeological structures: the sites 3, 8-9 and 10 (bottom-right) and the structure a (top-left), with the profiles I-II and III-IV, that could possibly be possibly part of a harbour structure. The lower part of the picture represents the bathymetric profile extracted along all identified structures (white dashed line). Credit: Federica Foglini.

Featured image: (Left) the reconstruction of the Roman Road in the Treporti Channel in the Venice Lagoon made on the basis of the multibeam data. Credit: Antonio Calandriello and Giuseppe D’Acunto. (Right) the same area now submerged. Credit: Fantina Madricardo.

Reference: Madricardo, F., Bassani, M., D’Acunto, G. et al. New evidence of a Roman road in the Venice Lagoon (Italy) based on high resolution seafloor reconstruction. Sci Rep 11, 13985 (2021).

Provided by Nature Publishing Group

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