The FOSPHORA project was labelled by the A*Midex Foundation in the framework of the 2018 "Mediterranean" call for projects and started its activities in February 2020. It brings together a consortium of academic and non-academic players in France, Italy and England, around the study of two ancient Roman ports, in Fos and Ostia-Portus, and the preservation of heritage.

The "Fos-Ostie-Portus: Harbours of Roman Antiquity" project aims to carry out a comparative study of the structures of two of the most important ports of the Roman Mediterranean: the Ostie-Portus complex, port of Rome, and Fossae Marianae, the outer harbour of the city of Arles, whose remains are currently visible in very different forms.

On the one hand, the abundance of sources on Ostia-Portus makes it a laboratory for the study of ancient ports. The complexity of the imperial port requires research to specify the circulation within it (on the jetties, the deep water canal linking the basins). The wealth of documentation (inscriptions, archives) sheds light on the relationship between the city of Ostia and Portus, which depends on it. On the other hand, in Fos, despite the number of remains found, the topography of the port sector and the route of the canal that linked it to the city of Arles are very poorly defined. The compilation of the ancient cartographic documentation and the analysis of the geomorphological cores are preliminary to the study of the underwater, wet and terrestrial contexts that make up the complex.

The comparison between the two sites and the collaboration between the two teams working on these sites are at the heart of the project, with the ambition to improve our knowledge of the implementation of the structures and the operation of the ports in their natural and man-made environment. In doing so, it also intends to contribute to the protection and promotion of these areas by raising public awareness of the heritage issues they represent. The monitoring and enhancement of the natural and cultural heritage of these environments, through the training of students, virtual reconstructions and museological presentations are planned with the partners in charge of the supervision of the sites.

The project brings together a large and varied consortium of French, Italian and British partners. On the French side, the academic partners are the Centre Camille Jullian, Cerege and Telemme, as well as the French School of Rome, Inrap, Drassm and the Ipso Facto research office. On the Italian and British side, the project involves the University of Rome - La Sapienza, which is particularly well known in the field of classical studies, and the University of Southampton (United Kingdom), whose Department of Archaeology has been awarded an ERC scholarship on Roman ports during the Imperial period (2007-2013).

The project associates these academic partners with those involved in the management and enhancement of the heritage, notably in France, the Aix-Marseille Provence Metropolis (Istres Ouest Provence Territory) and the Association Les Amis des Marais du Vigueirat, which manages the protected natural area in the Camargue; and in Italy the Parco archeologico di Ostia antica, responsible for the sites of Ostia and Portus. The FOSPHORA project should thus also encourage dialogue between the French and Italian partners responsible for the safeguarding and promotion of heritage sites and properties in both fields, since the environment of the two sites presents a series of similar problems.

This project is subsidised to the tune of €80,000 by the A*Midex Foundation as part of the 2018 "Mediterranean" call for projects. The aim of this call is to strengthen the Aix-Marseille site's Euro-Mediterranean collaborations with privileged research partners. The projects had to propose a research-action approach with a major axis of experimentation on a local scale; emphasis was also placed on interdisciplinarity and intersectorality, in order to generate new knowledge, and the strengthening of incoming and outgoing mobility within the Mediterranean basin, in order to strengthen partnerships.

coastal and port archaeology
Antiquity, Ancient Rome
Rome, Ostia, Fos, Arles
ancient cartography, topography
geomorphology, environment
enhancement of the natural and man-made heritage