If you’ve ever wondered how ancient Romans lived in their urban sprawl, forget about all those costume dramas and comedies, like Ben Hur or History of the World, Part I or Gladiator. (Actually, the most accurate seems to be HBO’s Rome series.) Instead, visit Ostia Antica, outside of Rome. It was city of 60,000 on over 100 acres near the sea. And it is the “Aha!” experience for understanding how our ancestors (Romans and slaves) lived, worked, bathed, prayed, and conducted matters of state. The lapidary inscriptions— spanning over three centuries—are also sensational. The mosaics are the earliest merchants’ signs too. Ostia is a microcosm of the greater Rome, for which it served as a port for the massive shipments of goods and foodstuffs that arrived daily. Not all ruins are alike. This one is amazing.
Some history, via Wikipedia: “Ostia was founded by Ancus Marcius, the semi-legendary fourth king of Rome, in the 7th century BC. The oldest archaeological remains so far discovered date back to only the 4th century BC. The most ancient buildings currently visible are from the 3rd century BC, notably the Castrum (military camp); of a slightly later date is the Capitolium (temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva). The opus quadratum of the walls of the original castrum at Ostia provide important evidence for the building techniques that were employed in Roman urbanisation during the period of the Middle Republic.”