AIRC's pilot project of documentation and conservation of recently recuperated structures at Ostia, on Via della Foce in Region III (Insula 1.14), was successfully completed today with the covering of the exposed floor surface with stone aggregate imported from Sellano in Umbria.
The project was born in the aftermath of AIRC's first annual Unlisted conference on preserving sites not represented on the major lists of world cultural heritage. The visit to Ostia with professional conservator Enrico Rinaldi (of Ales spa) on the final day brought home to the conference participants Ostia's dramatic physical condition. AIRC's Darius and Enrico agreed to collaborate on a new type of project involving both archaeological and conservation expertise: AIRC archaeologists would remove the dirt covering the floor of a small (10 x 4.5 m) room in which the invasive vegetation had already been cleared from the walls and the walls repaired by Rinaldi's team, document the entirely undocumented structures with traditional archaeological methods (stratigraphic unit sheets, hand-made drawings, and photographs), and finally re-cover the exposed floor surfaces with a specific quality of crushed limestone, from Sellano in Umbria, that has been tested at only one other archaeological site, the Villa of the Quintilii on the Via Appia, where it has successfully prevented invasive vegetation from reappearing on the floor.
The clearance and documentation of the room were accomplished between May and July. This week the aggregate was brought to Ostia directly from the quarry by the company that extracts it, Gubbiotti Cave, which has generously donated the 300 sacks (a total of over 13,000 lbs!) necessary to cover the foor. AIRC and the Ostia Office of the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome are extremely grateful to Gubbiotti Cave for making this experiment in conservation possible.
A teaser video about this project is available here. A brief documentary about it will be posted soon.
If, as expected, the sand prevents the reappearance of invasive vegetation after 6 months, AIRC intends to continue and expand this project in 2012, working in adjacent rooms and developing a larger project to include all of Region III.