Ancient Roman road and dock discovered in Venice lagoon

Find could prove there were human settlements in area centuries before city was founded

The discovery of the remains of a Roman road and dock submerged in the Venice lagoon could prove there were permanent human settlements in the area centuries before Venice was founded, researchers say.

Scuba divers discovered what appeared to be paving stones beneath the lagoon in the 1980s, but 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) whose study was published this week in the Scientific Reports journal.

Madricardo and her colleagues used 3D sonar mapping to study the underwater environment, and with the help of a team of divers from the local police force 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 structures, which were up to 2.7 metres tall and 52.7 metres long, were aligned in a north-easterly direction for about 1,140 metres. They are believed to have formed part of a system of roads in the Veneto region that may have been used by people to travel between the present-day city of Chioggia and the ancient city of Altinum.

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

Venice is believed to have been formally founded on 25 March AD421, and marked its 1,600th anniversary this year.

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

Meanwhile, Venice narrowly missed being placed on Unesco’s endangered list on Thursday after the government banned cruise ships from the lagoon.


Angela Giuffrida

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
US woman returns ancient Roman marble with letter of apology
Museum receives package from woman seeking forgiveness over graffitied artefact

Angela Giuffrida in Rome

25, Nov, 2020 @1:50 PM

Article image
Ancient Roman mosaic floor discovered under vines in Italy
Pristine ‘archaeological treasure’ near Verona may date to 3rd century AD, say experts

Angela Giuffrida Rome correspondent

27, May, 2020 @12:30 PM

Article image
Lavish ancient Roman winery found at ruins of Villa of the Quintilii near Rome
Excavation shows facility included luxurious dining rooms with views of fountains that gushed with wine

Charlotte Higgins in Rome

17, Apr, 2023 @4:00 AM

Article image
Ancient Roman ship laden with wine jars discovered off Sicily
Submarine robot takes photos of vessel and cargo of amphorae dating back to second century BC

Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

28, Jul, 2021 @11:38 AM

Article image
Italy's new ruins: heritage sites being lost to neglect and looting
Overgrown and weathered, many historical monuments are disappearing as public funds for culture fail to match modern Italy’s inheritance

Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

28, May, 2019 @11:56 AM

Article image
Pompeii's new director: 'Excavation is always a kind of destruction'
Archaeologist Gabriel Zuchtriegel takes controversy in his stride as he develops programme for site

Angela Giuffrida in Rome

26, Feb, 2021 @12:57 PM

Ancient villa discovered thanks to internet maps

An Italian computer programmer has discovered the remains of an ancient Roman villa after browsing maps and photographs downloaded from the internet.

David Adam

20, Sep, 2005 @11:04 PM

Article image
‘It’s as if we found oil’: Tuscan town savours discovery of spa trove
San Casciano dei Bagni’s fortunes expected to change after opulent Etruscan-Roman sanctuary found

Angela Giuffrida in San Casciano dei Bagni

11, Nov, 2022 @2:56 PM

Article image
Huge Atlas statue to guard Sicily's Temple of Zeus once more
Eight-metre statue built in 5th century BC had been buried among ancient ruins

Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo

14, Jul, 2020 @5:46 PM

Article image
Exhibition of Pompeii’s sex scenes aims to decode erotica
As art found among ruins goes on display, site’s director says ancient life was just as complex as our own

Angela Giuffrida in Rome

17, Apr, 2022 @3:03 PM