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Monte Testaccio, Rome

4.7
#191 of 527 in Historic Sites in Rome
Monte Testaccio is an artificial mound in Rome composed almost entirely of testae, fragments of broken amphorae dating from the time of the Roman Empire, some of which were labelled with tituli picti. It is one of the largest spoil heaps found anywhere in the ancient world, covering an area of 20000m2 at its base and with a volume of approximately 580000m3, containing the remains of an estimated 53 million amphorae. It has a circumference of nearly a kilometre and stands 35 metres high, though it was probably considerably higher in ancient times. It stands a short distance away from the east bank of the River Tiber, near the Horrea Galbae where the state-controlled reserve of olive oil was stored in the late 2nd century AD. The mound later had both religious and military significance.Structure and purposeThe huge numbers of broken amphorae at Monte Testaccio illustrate the enormous demand for oil of imperial Rome, which was at the time the world's largest city with a population of at least one million people. It has been estimated that the hill contains the remains of as many as 53 million olive oil amphorae, in which some 6 billion litres (1.3 billion imperial gallons/1.6 billion U.S. gallons) of oil were imported. Studies of the hill's composition suggest that Rome's imports of olive oil reached a peak towards the end of the 2nd century AD, when as many as 130,000 amphorae were being deposited on the site each year. The vast majority of those vessels had a capacity of some 70L; from this it has been estimated that Rome was importing at least 7.5 million liters (1.6 million imperial gal/2 million U.S. gal) of olive oil annually. As the vessels found at Monte Testaccio appear to represent mainly state-sponsored olive oil imports, it is very likely that considerable additional quantities of olive oil were imported privately.
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Monte Testaccio Reviews
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TripAdvisor
  • Met a local who recommended the area; went after the Protestant Cemetery [Keats Shelly graves] and found a Saturday morning market and artisanal street area behind a car park. Area seems to be teeming...  more »
  • Testaccio is a hill composed of fragments of amphorae, and hence also the name of "Monte d' Cocci". It is also worth looking out on the other side of the Tiber, Porta Portese height, because there are still remnants of the river port that once stood.
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  • Rome is a quirky place. It has been around for so long that it has seen pretty much everything. Monte Testaccio is one of those quirky things you could only see in a city that has been populated for a...  more »
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