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THE 19th CENTURY
We have a great case study from this period online!
The random searching of the ruins was forbidden by Carlo Fea, director general of antiquities, in the early nineteenth century. Excavations were now initiated by pope Pius VII (Ostia belonged to the Vatican), and carried out by Giuseppe Petrini in the years 1801-1805. A drawing exists of a visit by the pope. Excavations or rather digging took place around the Capitolium, and in the Insula del Larario (I,IX), Insula del Termopolio (I,II), Tempio Rotondo (I,XI,1), Basilica (I,XI,5), Caseggiato dei Triclini (I,XII,1), Terme del Foro (I,XII,6) and Insula dell'Invidioso (V,V). The oldest archaeological plans of Ostia belong to this period. They were made by Pietro Holl. On the plans we can recognize the Theatre, Capitolium, Terme del Foro, Tempio Rotondo, Terme di Buticosus (I,XIV,8), the Palazzo Imperiale, Tor Boacciana, Terme dei Sette Sapienti, Caseggiato degli Aurighi, Terme del Faro (IV,II,1), and the Terme di Porta Marina. Between 1824 and 1834 there was a renewed hunt for treasure. Between 1824 and 1829 Pietro and Felice Cartoni were active. They found baths to the north of the Domus di Apuleio (II,VIII,5), that were buried again and have not been excavated since. During the years 1831-1834 the marquis Pietro Campana worked by order of the Bishop of Ostia, cardinal Bartolomeo Pacca. The objects that were found can today be seen in several countries, even in the USA.
More or less structural activities began once more in 1855, under the auspices of pope Pius IX. They lasted until 1870. The pope visited Ostia six times, and a photograph has been preserved of a visit on May 15, 1866. The excavators were Pietro Ercole and Carlo Ludovico Visconti. The workers were some 200 prisoners, who lived in the Rocca from December to June (from July until November the risk of malaria was too great). The Visconti's too focused on inscriptions, statues, mosaics, and paintings, that were taken to the Vatican and Lateran museums. Sometimes marble and granite were taken to Rome as building material. Their activity took place on the Campus of the Magna Mater (IV,I), the Porta Laurentina- and Porta Romana-necropolis, and in the Caseggiato dei Molini. The Casone del Sale was partly rebuilt between 1865 and 1868 to function as a museum, but it would not be used as such until 1934. Wealthy foreigners now started to visit Ostia as tourists. The site was reached with some difficulty with carriages.
From 1870 Ostia was no longer a papal domain, but owned by the new Italian state. The excavations were continued by Pietro Rosa, between 1871 and 1875. In the Piccolo Mercato (I,VIII,1) he found colossal heads of Alexander Severus and Gordianus III, that may have come from the Tempio Rotondo, and a portrait of an elderly lady, now in the Museo Nazionale. For the first time paid workers were used. These excavations were disastrous. Holes were dug, the Ostian origin of objects was not recorded, and buildings excavated between the Piccolo Mercato and Palazzo Imperiale were subsequently destroyed by the Tiber. Rodolfo Lanciani was active between 1877 and 1889. He investigated the theatre, Insula II,VIII (including the Quattro Tempietti, Domus di Apuleio, and Mitreo delle Sette Sfere), and, partially, the Piazzale delle Corporazioni, Caserma dei Vigili and Terme di Nettuno. The Rocca was used as Antiquarium from 1878. Between 1897 and 1899 Luigi Borsari excavated part of Via della Fontana.
One of the plans of Pietro Holl (1805). South is up.
To the left the outline of the theatre can be seen. To the right are the Forum and Tempio Rotondo.
The visit of pope Pius VII on October 4, 1802. To the left is Carlo Fea.
From Recchia et al. 2001, fig. 2.
Part of the architectural decoration of the Capitolium, that Pius VII seems to be looking at.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.
A photo of Ostia, taken in 1855.
In the background is the castle in the medieval village.
The visit of pope Pius IX on May 15, 1866. Behind the Capitolium. SO I, Tav. I.
The museum (rebuilt Casone del Sale) in a depiction from the late 19th century.
R. Calza - Floriani Squarciapino 1962, fig. 1.