Venice Lagoon Was Hiding The Remains Of An Ancient Roman Road

It was previously thought that it wasn’t until after the fall of the Western Roman Empire that Venice was founded, but this discovery has researchers thinking differently now.

Roads played a big part in daily life in the Roman Empire. They connected ports with various other cities and were a pathway for both commerce and government.

In some cases, ancient Roman roads are still in use, although they have been modernized. Others have been lost to time, being buried, or perhaps even destroyed.

Photo: Pixabay/sosinda

There are times when these ancient Roman roads are discovered, and it seems as if that happens under a Venice Lagoon. The finding was published in Scientific Reports, and it shows more than an interesting thoroughfare, it shows how Venice may have gotten its start a long time before it was previously thought.

The waters in Venice have been explored by researchers working with a geophysicist from the Institute of Marine Science in Venice, Fantina Madricardo. Because of the tides and rising sea levels, it has not always been easy to explore the waters in the area. Researchers were able to map the bottom of the lagoon from a boat, using multi-beam sonar technology. They discovered some sunken structures from the high-resolution maps that were produced.

Photo: Scientific Reports

Some 13-16 feet below the surface of the water, a group of 12 structures was discovered. In an effort to learn more about them, police divers went underwater and explored with cameras. In the footage, some smooth, regular paving stones were recognized. It seems as if they are part of an ancient Roman Road and the structures may have been part of a Roman port.

It was previously thought that it wasn’t until after the fall of the Western Roman Empire that Venice was founded. That would’ve taken place in about the fifth century CE. The Roman town of Altinum is not far from these ruins, and researchers feel that the road may lead from the port to that town.

Photo: flickr/Carole Raddato

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, Madricardo feels that it may be possible that multiple settlements in the lagoon were connected and coexisted.

In that way, the development may have been more gradual than earlier thought. It has certainly uncovered a piece of history and shown the need to continue studying for any other hidden secrets that may be below the surface of the water.