The remains of an ancient Roman road and dock have been discovered at the bottom of the Venice lagoon.
The discovery is important because it suggests that there were human settlements in the area long before Venice was founded in the 5th century AD. In fact, what is now underwater was, at the time, dry land.
The results of the research, carried out by the National Research Centre's Institute of Marine Science (ISMAR-CRN) and Venice's IUAV University, were published in July in the journal Scientific Reports.
Researchers believe that the road they found connected the southern and northern part of the Venice lagoon, and that it was used to travel to and from the ancient Roman city of Altinum, located at the north end of the lagoon.
Researchers used a multi beam sonar device mounted on a boat in order to study the morphology of the canals and lagoon floor in 3-D. Thus, they found large, leveled stones similar to basoli, a type of road paving used by the ancient Romans both for urban streets and to connect Rome and the various regions of the Empire (the most famous example is the Appia Antica road in Rome). These rocks were placed down along a sandy ridge that was above water and were likely part of a system of road that spanned the Veneto region between the present-day city of Chioggia and the ancient city of Altinum.
When the road was built, sea levels were at least two meters lower, researchers say.
The discovery includes the remains of a Roman dock near the Treporti channel.
You can read about the study in detail here.