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Warehouse of the Freed Slaves

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Warehouse of the Freed Slaves
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Photo Comments

View of a warehouse used for storing commodities (= horrea).  The marble inscription above the main doorway indicates that this building was owned by two free slaves: Epagathus and Epaphroditus.  It was built of baked Roman Bricks, including the arches, lintels, engaged columns, and pilasters.  Note the evidence of at least one additional storey.  It was built between AD 145 and 150.

The horrea of Rome and its port, Ostia, stood two or more stories high. They were built with ramps, rather than staircases, to provide easy access to the upper floors. Grain horrea had their ground floor raised on pillars to reduce the likelihood of damp getting in and spoiling the goods. Many horrea appear to have served as great trading areas with rows of small shops (tabernae) off a central courtyard.

Security and fire protection were major concerns. Horrea were frequently built with very thick walls (as much as 1 m / 3 ft thick) to reduce the danger of fire, and the windows were always narrow and placed high up on the wall to deter theft. Doors were protected with elaborate systems of locks and bolts. Even the largest horrea usually only had two or three external doors, which were often quite narrow and would not have permitted the entrance of carts. The arduous task of moving goods into, out of and around horrea was most probably carried out by manual labour alone; the biggest horrea would thus have had an enormous staff of labourers.

Information adapted from Wikipedia and other sources.