Researchers discover an ancient Roman road in the Venice Lagoon

It's widely known that parts of the modern world that are underwater were, in the distant past, dry land. Recently, researchers discovered a Roman road submerged in the Venice Lagoon. The finding suggests that extensive settlements may have been present in the Venice Lagoon centuries before the founding of Venice in the fifth century.

During the Roman era, large areas of the Venice Lagoon that are currently submerged were accessible by land. Roman artifacts of been discovered in the lagoon and waterways, but the extent of human occupation in the lagoon during Roman times has been a mystery. Researchers on the project mapped the lagoon floor using sonar and discovered 12 archaeological structures aligned in a northeasterly direction spanning a distance of 1140 meters.

The structure was discovered in an area of the lagoon known as the Treporti Channel. The structures were up to 2.7 meters tall and 52.7 meters long. Previous surveys in the channel discovered stones similar to paving stones used by Romans during road construction, indicating the structures may be aligned along a Roman road.

Researchers also discovered four additional structures in the Treporti Channel that are four meters tall and 134.8 meters long. Based on the dimensions and similarity to structures discovered in other areas, the largest of those is thought to be a potential harbor structure, possibly a dock. Modeling and geological data collected previously indicates that the road was located on a sandy ridge that would've been above sea level during the Roman era but is now submerged in the lagoon.

Researchers believe the findings suggest a permanent settlement was present in the Treporti Channel during the Roman era. The team also believes the road could have been linked to a wider network of Roman roads in the Italian Veneto Region.