Roman road reconstruction. Image: A Calandriello and G D’Acunto/SWNS

Roman road and dock discovered in Venice lagoon

By Region History of Italy News North-east Italy

Researchers discover remains of a Roman road and dock submerged in the Venice lagoon. This could prove permanent human settlements in the area centuries before Venice was founded.

In the 1980s, scuba divers discovered what appeared to be paving stones beneath the lagoon. However, only after more recent research were the relics confirmed to have formed part of a road system.

“After speaking to those who first found these stones in the 1980s, I understood that it was something significant that could be anthropic,” said Fantina Madricardo, a researcher at the Venice-based Institute of Marine Science (Ismar). Their study was published this week in the Scientific Reports journal.

12 archaeological structures

Using 3D sonar mapping, Madricardo and her colleagues studied the underwater environment. With the assistance of divers from the local police force, they found 12 archaeological structures last summer in the area of the Treporti Channel.

“As these stones are completely covered by diverse vegetation, it was not totally clear,” said Madricardo. “So, we investigated more than one structure and found they had the same type of stones.”

The theory is the structures formed part of a road system in the Veneto region. The roads may have been used by people travelling between present-day Chioggia city and the ancient city of Altinum.

Previously gathered data shows the road as located on a sandy ridge above sea level during the Roman era.

2021 is 1,600th anniversary of Venice

The formal foundation of Venice is marked as 25 March AD421. This year, the lagoon city marked its 1,600th anniversary.

“The landscape was very different to what we see today … the sea level was much lower, at least 2 metres lower,” said Madricardo.

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