OSMAP 2002 Season Summary
The second season of OSMAP research was conducted with 18 participants over a five-week period in 2002.
The senior staff, led by director Dr. L. Michael White, returned to Ostia with twelve students, primarily
graduate students from the University of Texas.
2002 OSMAP Team
These students were divided into four teams of three, each with a team leader. Each team was responsible for
the masonry analysis of a set of rooms in the Synagogue and the other buildings located on the southern side
of the Via Severiana (IV.17.1-3). Each team developed a detailed description of all wall segments in the rooms
for which they were responsible. This analysis included measurements and descriptions of all tufa blocks and
clay bricks as well as the associated mortar beds. Sample moduli, as developed from the works of J. Boersma,
L. Ball, and J. Spurza, were taken for each wall segment which will allow the team to compare and contrast wall
segments throughout the site in order to develop the construction phases of the building as well as identify
wall construction techniques. In addition to recording all of the measurements, colors, material compositions,
and layout techniques of each wall of the buildings along the southern side of the Via Severiana, each team was
also responsible for an architectural elevation drawing of each wall. Very few elevation drawings were created
in previous excavations at the site, therefore this contribution to the Ostia Archives will be useful for
comparanda across the site of Ostia Antica.
One field team at work in IV.17.2 Room 1. Each team was responsible for all of the measurements, description,
drawings, and analysis of each room they were assigned.
As a result of the masonry analysis of these buildings, each team was able to create an in-field assessment of the
relative chronology of the construction in their rooms. By closely studying the wall in segments, each team
submitted proposals on the different phases of construction they were able to observe. Features in the wall
segments such as fissures or cracks, filled-in doorways, and wall patches helped clarify the possible
interpretations of the architectural phases.
Detail of Southwest Pier at IV.17.2 Room 4. The crack in the pier shows signs of stress from later construction.
The lack of any joining or quoining between the opus latericium section of the wall and the opus mixtum portion
of the wall show that at least two phases of construction are represented here.
These preliminary suggestions will be further studied both in and out of the field with more detailed
analysis and the excavation of soil accumulated since the earliest excavations. The exposure of wall footings
and additional masonry segments will test the team's in-field conclusions as well as answer further queries
about the buildings different construction phases.
In addition to the masonry analysis undertaken by the student teams in 2002, a separate survey team continued
the digital mapping begun in the 2001 season. Alan Stearman once again led this aspect of the project using
his GIS Total Station Survey equipment. The survey team established more base points for the buildings in the
area and a datum line for the orientation and stratigraphic position for all wall segments and floor layers in
the survey region. These digital points will be used to create an integrated datum line for the masonry analysis
The survey team also began the creation of a digital top plan of all of the monuments in the region, including
the building just west of the Synagogue and the adjacent nymphaeum (IV.17.2). Prior to the inception of OSMAP
there was no full plan of this building or nymphaeum, and the drawings completed in 1962 proved to be inaccurate.
The creation of a full-scale digital plan of the area will be a valuable resource for the archives at Ostia Antica.
In this season the team was also allowed to reopen a previously excavated trench in the entry chambers to the
Synagogue proper (IV.17.1. Room 9) which had been excavated in 1962 and left unpublished. The exposure of the
masonry and floor levels in this trench combined with the masonry analysis of the associated walls in rooms 9
and 10 has allowed the team to study the construction phases of this portion of the building more closely. The
examination of this trench has led the team to identify four distinct phases of construction in this are of the
Excavated trench in IV.17.1 Room 9, looking towards the rear of the Torah Niche to the west. This trench,
originally excavated in 1962, was reopened in 2002 to expose at least four different construction phases in
this part of the Synagogue.
At the end of the 2002 season, the team had analyzed all of the walls of the buildings south of the Via
Severiana, namely the Synagogue proper and the building and nymphaeum to its west. Digital photographs were
taken of the buildings north of the Via Severiana in anticipation of the 2004 season when another full team
will be on site to complete the masonry analysis and mapping of the monuments in the OSMAP survey region.