Necropolis of Isola Sacra

Isola Sacra is situated between the Port, on the north, and the excavations of Ostia Antica, on the south. The Roman Emperor Traiano transformed this territory in an artificial island by building a canal that links the Tiber and the sea (this canal is called Fossa Traiana).
In the I century A.C., Ostia and Porto were linked by a street which was one of the most important street and crossed all Isola Sacra. Along this street developed one big necropolis, which was discovered only between the ’20 and the ’40 years in occasion of the land reclamation works. The necropolis of Isola Sacra is perfectly preserved thanks to the shelving that invested this area caused by the action of the river, in the nearby of the mouth. It is one of the most relevant example of the “city of the dead”; it was built with monuments very similar to those of the city of alive.


The graves are drawn up in lines which go parallel to the street made of stones having a volcanic origin and they are all turned towards it. In the lines, which are closer to the street, there are the graves dated back to III century but that have been built on pre existing structures of the I century; from behind, there are graves dated back to the II century.
 All the building together make a block with free areas and paths. The main kind of monument is the one of family grave which looks like a square room in which can be buried different people (usually burned to ashes and burials together).


On the façades, where  perforated bricks of different colors create simple geometry, there are inscriptions and reliefs that remind what was the job of the dead; usually they all belong to the middle class such as artisans, shopkeepers, traders, professionals that worked in the port. In the Necropolis you can also find well preserved decorative elements such as mosaics, paintings and stuccos.

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