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The Nero Port of Ostia Sestertius

20 Sep 2021  Mon

Rome was the largest city the ancient world had ever known. Yet it was located inland on the Tiber River and had no natural harbor nearby on the coast. This presented an increasingly urgent problem. As the city’s population continued to grow, the need to import grain and goods to support the population grew as well.

A great famine during the reign of Emperor Claudius led him to begin an ambitious engineering project to construct a massive harbor at the Port of Ostia, which sat at the mouth of the Tiber River. Unfortunately, Claudius didn’t live to see the completion of the project. The harbor was completed in 64 AD during the reign of Emperor Nero.

This sestertius bears a bust of Nero on the front and an overview of the new harbor with a reclining image of the river god Tiber on the back. Seven ships are shown within the harbor; at the top is a pharus surmounted by a statue of Neptune; below is a reclining figure of Tiber, holding a rudder and dolphin; to left, crescent-shaped pier with portico, terminating with figure sacrificing at altar and with building; to right, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips, terminating with a figure seated on rock.

Image Courtesy:

Knowledge Base

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