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Paola canal harbour

Great Roman engineering

In order to build a harbour on the shores of Lake Paola, and guarantee a second safe dock beside that of Astura, a remarkably wide and deep canal had to be dug across the dunes.

So massive was the excavation, that it required the realisation of a substructure under the northern escarpment: an opus reticolatum wall with limestone toothing, covered today by thick vegetation through which only few stretches can be seen.

The emissary was perhaps doubled under Domitian, since the channel supplying water to Lucullo's pool was built in that period: the channel got water from this branch, and it replaced the pipe system which used to convey water before these works were done.

Paola canal harbour belongs to a series of similar canals built in the early Imperial age, but doubts persist about the precise dating; it is very likely that it was built before Emperor Nero and, consequently, before Fossa Augusta. 

It is therefore conceivable that the infrastructures were built in successive steps: first, the canal harbour was realised (according to Coarelli, during the Augustan age); then, a commercial/residential area evolved, although we cannot be sure about its chronology because of restorations carried out in the 18th century. There is however abundant epigraphic evidence of its nature and importance. 

Architects under Nero finally linked this area and its port with Fossa Augusta, a canal by which it was no longer necessary to circumnavigate the Circeo Promontory.

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Coordinator: dott. R.Righi

Scientific manager: prof. A.M.Jaia

Technical manager: dott. D.Ronchi

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Paola canal harbour
Paola canal harbour
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