University of Southampton archaeologists discover ancient shipyard


Archaeologists from the University of Southampton helped uncover the remains of a suspected ancient Roman shipyard.

The excavation, referred to as The Portus Project, is an ongoing excavation of Portus – the ancient port of Rome. The project, a collaboration between the University of Southampton, the British School at Rome and the University of Cambridge, is lead by University of Southampton professor, Simon Keay.

Computer graphic reconstruction of the shipyard building produced at University of Southampton..

Speaking of the latest discovery Keay said: “Few Roman Imperial shipyards have been discovered and, if our identification is correct, this would be the largest of its kind in Italy or the Mediterranean.”

The huge building, at first thought to be a warehouse, would have stood 145 metres long and 60 metres wide, an area larger than a football pitch, and dates from the 2nd century AD.

Keay explained, “The scale, position and unique nature of the building leads us to believe it played a key role in the shipbuilding activities”.

He then added, “The discovery of this building has major implications for our understanding of the significance of the hexagonal basin or harbour at Portus and its role within the overall scheme of the port complex.”

The shipyard has given the team a new source of knowledge and the archaeologists plan to continue their investigation of the site. They hope to gain more valuable information about the port and its role in trade during Imperial Rome.

For more information on The Portus Project, visit


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