LAFRERI, Antonio (1512-1577). Claudii et Traiani impp. admirabilium portuum Ostiensium. Orthographia per Stephanum du Perach, architectum iuxta antiqua vestigia accuratissime delineata.. Rome: Io. Iacobus Rubeis, [ca 1660].
2 sheets, joined (16 x 27 4/8 inches). SUPERB engraved view of the ancient and strategic fortified port of Ostia, Portus, about 2 miles northwest of Ostia, at the mouth of the River Tiber on the shores of the Tyrrhenian sea, as it was in Classical Rome, showing the outer harbour of Claudius with its two moles extending into the sea guarded by a colossus, and the inner hexagonal harbour of Trajan, decorated with ships and a fine compass rose (close-cropped).
First issued by the renowned Roman publisher Antonio Lafreri in 1575, and with his imprint. Lafreri was a major map seller and publisher in Rome, and one of the first to issue an atlas of assorted maps with a dedicated engraved title-page.
The importance of Ostia as a port city increased dramatically after the emperor Claudius undertook to build two great moles at Portus northwest of Ostia, beginning in AD 42 and taking about 20 years to complete, and eventually dedicated under Nero in 64 AD. The "growth of Ostia into a major urban centre begins at this time; at its height the population is 50,000-70,000 people. Up until that time the anchorage in the mouth of the Tiber was uncertain, the coast also being a lee shore and dangerous. Larger vessels could not navigate the Tiber mouth and so, before the harbour was built, lighters needed to be employed to bring cargo ashore. Claudius’ new port alleviated all of these factors which had provided a natural check on the growth of the city. Now Ostia became a port town in earnest; the residence of workers at the port as well as of the negotiators who arranged trans-shipment of cargoes upstream. This development coincided with the period in which the grain shipments from Egypt (the Annonaria) were reaching their full extent and these enormous annual shipments of grain added impetus to the growth of the city.
"Under Trajan an ambitious expansion to the Portus complex was completed in the years 106-113 CE. This took the form of a large hexagonal harbour just to the east of, and connected to, Claudius’ outer harbour. After this time the grain fleet from Egypt was brought to Portus and not to Puteoli as it had been until that time" (Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited online).