Grant to research Roman ports

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Photo: Professor Keay is examining 31 Mediterannean ports to see how they integrated to form a crucial part of vast trading networks across the Roman Empire

The UK’s University of Southampton has been awarded a €2.49m (£2.1m) grant by the European Research Council to study a large network of Roman ports stretching from Turkey in the east, to Spain in the west.

Archaeologist Professor Simon Keay will lead the project, ‘Roman Mediterranean Ports’, to examine 31 ports in nine different countries. His team will examine the sites using a combination of geophysical surveys (including ground penetrating radar), data from satellite imagery, and the study of ancient texts.

Professor Keay said: “We will explore the relationship between these 31 ports and look at how they integrated to form a crucial part of vast trading networks across the Roman Empire. They formed one of the world’s most important trading systems, operating at a time when the Mediterranean was a unified region.”

Professor Keay is leading the project in close collaboration with Ancient Historian Professor Pascal Arnaud, from the Université de Lyon La Lumière, who will be analysing key Greek and Latin texts and inscriptions as the research is conducted. This will be the first time that both the archaeological and historical evidence of the ports have been studied closely together.

‘Roman Mediterranean Ports’ builds on 15 years of work by Professor Simon Keay at the archaeological site of Portus in Italy, the port of Imperial Rome.

The University of Southampton has just established the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute – a unique, world-leading institute for marine and maritime innovation, education and expertise.