Isola Sacra

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Isola Sacra
Necropoli di Porto 03.JPG
Necropolis of Portus
Isola Sacra is located in Lazio
Isola Sacra
Shown within Lazio
Alternate name Necropoli di Porto
Location Comune di Fiumicino, Lazio, Italy
Region Lazio
Type Necropolis
Founded first century AD
Abandoned sixth century AD
Periods Roman Republic Roman empire
Cultures Ancient Rome
Site notes
Excavation dates yes
Archaeologists Guido Calza
Management Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma
Public access yes
Website Necropoli di Porto (in Italian)

Isola Sacra (the Holy Isle) is situated in the Lazio region of Italy south of Rome, near the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is part of the town of Fiumicino.[1][2]


The area between Portus and Ostia Antica was transformed into an artificial island by Emperor Trajan, creating a canal that linked the Tiber to the sea (Fossa Traiana, now Fiumicino Canal). Merchant ships arriving from Egypt and Africa were able to reach Ostia using this canal. The island was originally much smaller but it has been constantly growing due to the alluvial activity of the Tiber. Its area almost quintupled since antiquity.[3]

In the 1st century AD., a road linked the two ports, crossing through the island and becoming the main road axis. The Isola Sacra Necropolis grew up alongside the road, that was discovered between the 1920s and the 1940s, while the land was being reclaimed. Some of the necropolis buildings have two storeys, elaborately decorated with paintings, stucco work and mosaics.[4]

The left side of the Fossa Traiana was a residential area of Portus. Near the Fiumicino Canal, by the bridge that crossed over to Portus, the so-called Terme di Matidia can be seen. The core of the complex built in the middle of the 2nd century and used until the 6th century. The Basilica of St. Hippolitus was built between the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th century. The building was divided into three naves by two rows of columns.

The study of human skeletal remains from the site continues to provide important information about diet and morbidity in ancient Rome.[5]


  • D'Ambra, E. 1981. "A work 'ethic' at Ostia: the Isola Sacra reliefs." Thesis (M.A.)--University of California, Los Angeles—Art History.
  • Prowse T., Schwarcz H., Saunders S., Bondioli L., and Macchiarelli R. 2005. "Isotopic evidence for age-related variation in diet from Isola Sacra, Italy." American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 128(1):2-13.


  1. ^ "History and territory of Fiumicino" (in Italian). 2012-05-29. Archived from the original on 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  2. ^ Guido Calza (1931). Ostia: Isola Sacra : la necropoli del Portus Romae. 
  3. ^ Necropoli di Porto: Isola Sacra. Istituto poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, Libreria dello Stato. 1996. ISBN 978-88-240-3863-8. 
  4. ^ Lauren Hackworth Petersen (19 September 2011). The Freedman in Roman Art and Art History. Cambridge University Press. pp. 268–. ISBN 978-1-107-60359-2. 
  5. ^ Tina Moffat; Tracy Prowse (15 January 2014). Human Diet And Nutrition In Biocultural Perspective: Past Meets Present. Berghahn Books. pp. 174–. ISBN 978-1-78238-534-9. 

External links[edit]

  • Quilici, L., S. Quilici Gigli, R. Talbert, T. Elliott, S. Gillies. "Places: 422948 (Isola Sacra)". Pleiades. Retrieved March 8, 2012. 

Coordinates: 41°45′N 12°15′E / 41.750°N 12.250°E / 41.750; 12.250