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The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity
Douglas BoinDouglas Boin, Rebecca DarleyRebecca Darley


The old harbour city of Rome, located c.25.7 km (16 miles) from the capital. Thought to have declined during the Third Century Crisis, Ostia is known to have led a more vigorous life even as it was separated administratively from Portus under Constantine I. Earlier studies that characterized the town as exclusively one of grand houses, for example, have been revised in light of the persistence of apartment-living into the 3rd century and beyond. Some bakeries and granaries continued to function into the 5th century, baths and the city centre remained well kept, and traditional paganism remained a visible part of city life. Maxentius opened a mint, probably employing personnel from Carthage, which operated between ad 308/9 and 313. The first quarter of the 4th century produced the first visible Christian architecture, a basilica located within the walls, though sources (Liber Pontificalis, 34, 28 and AASS Junii VII, 33–4) disagree about its dedication. Three other basilicas, none of which can be dated before the start of the 5th century, were later added to the territory outside the walls; and it was not until the 6th or early 7th century that a campaign was organized to erect epitaphs for Ostia’s 3rd-century bishop Cyriacus, as well as for S. Monica (d. 387), the mother of Augustine, whose death at Ostia is treated in the Confessions (IX, 8, 17).

Douglas Boin; Rebecca Darley


D. R. Boin, Ostia in Late Antiquity (2013).Find this resource:

    A. Gering, L. Kaumanns, and L. Lavan, ‘Das Stadtzentrum von Ostia in der Spätantike. Vorbericht zu den Ausgrabungen 2008–2011’, MDAI(R) 117 (2011), 409–509.Find this resource:

      J. P. Descoeudres, ed., Ostia: port et porte de la Rome antique (2001).Find this resource:

        G. Becatti, Scavi di Ostia 6: edificio con ‘opus sectile’ fuori Porta Marina (1969).Find this resource:

          RIC VI.