Rome’s Playground

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Playing in Roman Ruins

In the USA I would never be able to climb in or on or through Roman ruins, not only because we don’t have Roman ruins but, because in the USA we build an environment that is curated in a way to keep us out and safe, even in some of the environments where we will learn the most in. When in Rome, we had the opportunity to explore at our own will, climb through a tomb, sit in a bath complex, and to the third floor of our ancient friends apartment buildings. I don’t believe that there is any better way of learning than in this way, actually being able to touch and play in Roman ruins.

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The Roman Theater at Ostia Antica

Just outside of the Rome’s city center is a large archaeological site called Ostia Antica. Ostia Antica is the location of ancient Rome’s harbor city. Believed to be founded in the 7th century BC. Originally located at the mouth of the Tiber River, the oldest remains date back to the 4th century BC. Ostia’s location on both the river and sea allowed for the city to grow in importance, in terms of military and economic points of view. By the 2nd century BC, Rome was in rule over the entire Mediterranean Sea, meaning that Ostia’s importance as a military harbor was decreasing, but quickly formed favor as being the main commercial hub of Rome. Ostia’s population grew to 50,000 inhabitants and buildings such as baths, apartments, theaters, bars, bakeries, temples, and even a cemetery. But, by the end of the 3rd century the town began to fall into decay and desertion in the centuries following. Many believe that the decline of the city was due to the general decline of the Roman Empire and the increased importance of the Port of Trajan.

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Temple of Jupiter

Ostia is noted for the excellent preservation of her ancient Roman ruins, frescoes, and mosaics that were found in the building erected during the population incline. The city remains in such great condition because it was just abandoned and exposed to the weather through time, it was not destroyed by some force of nature such as an earthquake or covered over in volcanic ash, like Pompeii. Our class can be a testament to that, being that none of us went through the floor of an ancient apartment and the walls didn’t collapse upon us as we walked through out the ruins. We only had a few scrapes and bruises when we got home ;) It was amazing to imagine the city as it was years and years ago when the apartments had roof over the third floor, when the baths had running water, and when the mosaics were not in fragmented pieces.

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Our little class checking out Ostia Antica

Agian, I have to say that going to Ostia Antica was an opportunity of a lifetime. Actually being able to walk through what was once a bath complex or an amaprtment, the top of a Roman theater, and even a necropolis (basically a cemetary), is an experience that many people will never have.  And as an archtecture student, I can honestly say it was a class period I will never forget becasue it was the best place to learn.