Saturday, February 1, 2014

Carole Raddato returns to PHOSPHOR-Ostia!

Our goal here at PHOSPHOR-Ostia is to create a picture site of all of Ostia.  We have started with nearly 800 of our own photographs.  And even though we’ve been to Ostia twice we still haven’t been able to cover the entire area.  To that end we extend an open invitation to all who have been to Ostia and who have high resolution pictures of it to allow us to show your work as part of the PHOSPHOR-Ostia project.

We’re very fortunate to have Carole Raddato as one of our contributors and we’ve started featuring her work as part of the on going effort to photograph Ostia.  So far we have some of her photographs from the Museo Ostiense and this week I’ve added her pictures of the Baths of the Forum, (I, xii, 6).  You can see her photos if you search for ‘carolemadge’ on PHOSPHOR-Ostia.  She tweets as @carolemadge and she has her own blog at

PHOSPHOR-Ostia isn’t Flickr for Ostia.  Every photograph has a lat/long pair attached, a set of relevant keywords, and its own map.  Each picture works to strengthen all the others – they are not scattered in a disorganized stream like so many picture sites.  Here, for example, is the PHOSPHOR-Ostia map of Carole’s picture contributions.  

New photographs of the Forum Baths by Carole Raddato.  PHOSPHOR-Ostia

You can easily generate a map on the site for any search word.  Try ‘mithra*’, or ‘Hadrian’ for example.  By the way, the ‘*’ character is a wild card for searching.

Anyone who has high-res pictures of Ostia Antica is strongly encouraged to get in touch with us because we’d very much like to show your pictures.  And welcome, again, to Carole Raddato!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Photo web site: PHOSPHOR-OSTIA

I have completed the first phase of the Phosphor-Ostia website by populating the site with nearly 800 pictures of Ostia-antica.  Ostia-Antica was the harbor city of ancient Rome.  All the pictures are fully key-worded and searchable.  Many such terms as ‘brick’, ‘Trajan’, and ‘mithra’ are supported along with 924 other distinct search terms.  You have the option to display your pictures against a map background, in a gallery (the default) or on a timeline.  We hope you'll explore the whole site.  And uniquely for this type of site you have the option to display you search term in a tagmap so, for example, if you display 'Trajan' on a tag map you'll get all the other Ostia-related terms associated with Emperor Trajan.

Photos of Ostia, Italy shown against a map background.

Nearly all of the pictures are photographs which we took ourselves in 2005 and 2010.  The site is intended to be a reference source of pictures of Ostia.  And so the pictures may be used by scholars, researchers, or students for free.  Even though no compensation or permission is required we do like to hear how our pictures are being used.  You can e-mail us at, or We very much hope that the users, you, will be in touch.

This website is new and in the first stages of production.  We hope to continue to put photographs on the site and are always looking for photographs of Ostia to display.  Some areas of Ostia are not well represented in pictures, notable Regio V.

We want to take this opportunity to thank Drs Robert Harp and Dr. Jan Theo Bakker.  Such a site, with the name PHOSPHOR, was originally their idea.  And, if you don’t yet know it, you’ll want to check out Dr. Bakker’s  Ostia website on Ostia Antica.

More soon.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Introduction to Phosphor-Ostia

There is now a site to act as a repository for high resolution photographs of Roman Ostia.  It is called  In effect it is the same software which powers Squinchpix except that I used the creation of this site as an opportunity to improve that software, fix problems, and add new features.  Any photos placed on this new site will:

1. be displayable in a gallery
2. appear as century icons when displayed on a map
3. be displayable on a timeline by century
4. be analyzable on a tag map (unique to SquinchPix)

Add caption

This new site also displays a SquinchPix-style dictionary which will be added to over the coming months.  There is also a ‘New-Images’ page which will be a quick way to determine what’s new on the site.
In addition to pictures I have added the capability to display movies (‘squinchmovie’), notes (‘squinchnote’), and external references.

A squinchmovie is a video in .wmv form.  Such videos on Ostia will be displayed on the site; they appear as ordinary thumbnails in the gallery display and as regular century markers on the map display.  They are key-worded like all other objects on SquinchPix.

A squinchmovie marker.  It uses an ordinary
century icon; the tool-tip label tells you that it's a movie.

Squinchnotes are free-form html files which are displayed in full in the gallery display.  On a map they show up as a special note icon and when you mouse over it you get a tool-tip label which tells you that this is a note.  Notes show up in the century display as a special note thumbnails.

Some note markers in the Ostia area.  Here they're used to
label some of the Mithraea with tool-tip label.

An external reference is a kind of object which, like the others, shows up in a gallery, on a map, and on a timeline.  It’s content, however, is just a URL so that when you click on it you’re taken to an external site.  This is useful, of course, to direct other people’s attention to a reputable and informative external site ( for example) and might be at its most useful when seen on a map along with other types of markers.  On a map it has a special ‘Ex’ icon so they are identified at sight.

A marker to an external page which describes a coin
issued under Hadrian; with its tool-tip label.

What sort of photographs is Phosphor-Ostia looking for?  The purpose of the site is to be a repository for high-resolution photographs of Ostia, the necropolis on Isola Sacra, and the area around the ancient Portus (roughly all the area north of Isola Sacra around the southern part of Fiumicino airport).  High-resolution, in displayable web terms, means anything from about one and  a half to ten megabyte jpgs.  After about three megabytes things start to load slowly (even on a high speed DSL line) but I’m willing to host anything up to 10 Mb.  The site has a capacity of 1500 Gb so storage shouldn’t be a problem.  The photographs hosted should be originally shot in raw format and if you want to submit photos you would, ideally, submit .tifs.  You can submit anything up to about 30 Mb in size.  I’ll convert them to .jpgs and size them for the site.  Any photograph submitted must have a caption and keywords.  If you don’t furnish keywords then I’ll furnish them but I might get back to you about it.

A caption must tell us

a. what the object is
b. what it’s made of
c. what year (decade, reign, century, era) it was built/made.
d. anything unique about it
e. where it is (I need to establish an exact lat/lon pair if humanly possible)

You can also suggest notes or external URLs that you think should be displayed  on Phosphor-Ostia.

For all submissions send me an e-mail at  Phosphor-Ostia will have its own e-mail address shortly.

I also urge you to ‘like’ the new Phosphor-Ostia page:

There is also this Phosphor-Ostia blog which I hope people will submit posts to.  Such posts should concern Ostia, Ostia photography, or posts about archaeological photography in general.

Right now the site is hosted for the next year (cheap at $37.00) and at the end of the year we can evaluate how useful it is.

Phosphor-Ostia is intended to furnish materials for archaeologists, scholars, researchers, students, and others to use for their own initiatives.  Therefore I propose that the photographs be released under “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic” which is described here:

Every photograph or other material, when displayed, will be marked the way it’s currently done on  It’s important that each photograph bear a mark because this tends to slow down content-scraping.  I propose that that mark be ‘PHOSPHOR <Year>’.

Currently the site carries about 20 photographs of the Piazza dei Lari (search for ‘Lari’) which were taken by Dr. Robert Harp.  I’ve marked them ‘© PHOSPHOR 2013’.  Dr. Harp hasn’t objected to this; at least not yet.

We can debate the ownership issue further.  PHOSPHOR-OSTIA has no desire to own the material submitted; only to display it and make it available for researchers under
“Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic”, as I mentioned above.

You should never submit any photograph to the web if you also desire to retain full control over it.
I created this site on spec after reading Dr. Jan Theo Bakker and Dr. Robert Harp discuss the need for a photo-site devoted to Ostia (and other ruins) because of the continual deterioration of the city fabric due to neglect and other reasons.  I myself have been to Ostia more than once and I understand what they’re talking about.  The time to photograph Ostia is now.

My plan is to turn over ownership of this site to Drs. Bakker or Harp or their representatives and I’m waiting to hear from them.  Also I should mention that the phrases  'PHOSPHOR' and 'PHOSPHOR-Ostia' are their intellectual property.

The software that powers this site is my property.  Anyone who owns this particular site, has a perpetual license to use the software and I undertake to maintain it.

In the meantime I hope that you potential users will look over the site and familiarize yourself with its features.  At the present moment there are about 100+ pictures and other objects on the site.  They were chosen for their utility in integrating the software at this new location and may not all relate to Ostia.  The non-Ostia material will ultimately (soon) be removed.

I’d like to make some broader statements about photographs, scholarly purpose, and the web.

Anyone can take pictures but it takes a huge amount of work to make them available for scholarly purpose.  Pictures in isolation, pictures with no captions, pictures without an exact location, pictures that aren’t keyworded are basically of no more use than artifacts that are looted from a site and devoid of context.  I see many beautiful pictures of sites and artifacts on, for example, Flickr (or worse, the unspeakable Wikimedia); I wind up shaking my head because none of these photos can be put to scholarly use.  They’re not captioned, they’re badly captioned, they have no keywords, they’re not dated, they are not put on a map or they are put on a map but in the wrong place and, what’s fatal, they’re not in context with other pictures or materials.  In such a way beautiful pictures made with considerable effort are converted into a heap of garbage. is run by software that corrects all those problems. is the means by which anyone with photographs of Ostia can place them in a usable scholarly archive.   In addition to its specific features this web site is motivated by the idea that pictures have to be put into context.  Researchers aren’t just looking for the perfect picture; they want to see all the other pictures that are similar.  By that I mean, similar in date, similar in subject, similar in material, similar in physical location.

We do all of that.

Welcome to Phosphor-Ostia!