Ancient Roman road found at the bottom of the Venetian lagoon

Italian archaeologists working in the vicinity of Venice have discovered, using hydroacoustic methods, the remains of structures from the Roman era, as well as a section of the road, at the bottom of the Venetian lagoon. The research results are published in Scientific Reports.

During Roman times, the relative mean sea level was lower and most of the Venetian lagoon was above water. On the islands of the lagoon and its bottom, archaeologists regularly find artifacts from this era, but the extent of the lagoon’s population is still unclear.

Scientists from the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice led by Fantina Madricardo, along with colleagues from the IUAV University of Venice and the Institute of Marine Sciences in Bologna, carried out high-resolution cartographic studies of the lagoon bottom using multibeam sonar – an acoustic locator to identify underwater objects.

In the northeastern part of the lagoon, in the Treporti Canal area, they discovered the remains of twelve archaeological structures located linearly at a distance of 1140 meters. The authors estimate that the size of the buildings was about 2.7 meters high and 50 meters long. Several larger structures – up to four meters in height and 134.8 meters in length – are considered by scientists to be port structures such as modern docks.

The researchers also found stones at the bottom of the Treporti Canal, similar to the cobblestones that the Romans used to build the road, indicating that the structures were located along the ancient road.

With the help of archival and geoarchaeological research, the authors carried out a three-dimensional architectural reconstruction of the ancient road. By its structure, it fully corresponds to other roads of the Roman era, widely represented in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

The finds suggest that permanent settlements may have existed in the Venetian Lagoon long before the founding of Venice, and the discovered road may have been linked to a wider Roman road network in the Italian Veneto region and may have been used by travelers and sailors to travel between the current city of Chioggia and the Venetian North Lagoon. …

Previously, it was believed that the city of Venice was built in the IV-V centuries AD from scratch, and the stones that are periodically found at the bottom of the lagoon are fragments of Venetian buildings and other structures of the city.

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