Three marble columns over one meter in diameter and two and a half meters long were discovered on the bed of the Tiber in the Fossa Traiana, in Ostia Antica. The columns were identified by the Nucleo of the Underwater Carabinieri as part of the first campaign carried out by the Underwater Protection service just established by the Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica and should be from the imperial era. But subsequent immersions will establish this with greater certainty, during which small samples should be taken to establish the type of marble and its origin, while waiting to recover the columns themselves. The Carabinieri left from the mouth of the Tiber and went up the course of the Fossa Traiana, the Fiumicino canal built by the architects of the empire. From Capo Due Rami, reached by two naval vessels of the Carabinieri Subacquei Nucleo of Rome, numerous dives were carried out with the participation of the archaeologist Alessandra Ghelli, new head of the Underwater Heritage Protection Service of the Archaeological Park of Ostia Antica. For Alessandro D’Alessio, director of the Park, “the baptism of the new underwater archaeological protection service of the Ostia Antica Park could not have been more fortunate. The first campaign carried out by Dr. Alessandra Ghelli – with the incomparable help of the Carabinieri Nucleus divers of Rome and of the Nucleo Tutela del heritage dei cultural di Roma – led to the identification in the waters of the Tiber, at a depth of five meters, of three large shafts of marble columns. Although partially buried in the bed and in the embankment, the columns they exceed one meter in diameter and two and a half meters in length “.” But how did they end up in the Tiber? It should be remembered – continues D’Alessio – that imperial Rome, in the first centuries after Christ, was undoubtedly the most coveted landing place, the most flourishing of the markets for marble from quarries scattered throughout the Mediterranean, from Spain to the Black Sea, passing through the Egyptian coasts. Sometimes a small part of the loads entrusted to tra river spout against the current along the Tiber, destined for the marble station at Testaccio, was subject to accidents along the way and once overboard it became difficult to recover, especially if of imposing dimensions like our columns. With the next appointment with the protection of the underwater cultural heritage we will try to take small samples, to determine the type of marble and its origin. The Arma dei Carabinieri has already assured its contribution and together we hope to reach the recovery of the columns in the medium term. “During the various dives, the Carabinieri came across numerous submerged debris including remains of hulls, decaying animal carcasses. , but also medium and large trunks carried by the current. “The activities in May focused on the depths of the Fossa Traiana or the artificial canal dug by the Emperor Trajan to connect the port, its port, with the Tiber and which corresponds to today’s Fiumicino canal “says the archaeologist and diver Alessandra Ghelli. The river is one of the most hostile environments where one can operate and, despite the shallow depths, not exceeding 8-10 meters, the possible threats and dangers are many and invisible. In fact, already after the first 2 meters, due to the high density of the dissolved silt, the water takes on a brown color and blackish to become very dark in depth, thus preventing the underwater Carabinieri from benefiting from sight, which in fact in the operations was replaced entirely by touch. The divers, forced to use an increased weight, essential to be more adherent to the bottom and effectively counter the current, moved on all fours using only their hands to feel what surrounded them. “Although the column shafts are large – continues Alessandra Ghelli – finding and identifying them was difficult, it was a purely tactile job, above all due to the degree of visibility which on the seabed is zero. always by the presence of currents, so when you work underwater in the Tiber you have to anchor on the seabed in a very solid way and you have to go up the current almost as if we were crabs “. The Carabinieri of the Cultural Heritage Protection Unit of Rome also participated in the research campaign in the Fossa Traiana, which periodically carries out monitoring and control activities of marine and river archaeological sites with the support of the Underwater Carabinieri Unit of Rome and related naval units, to consolidate the prevention and contrast to the phenomena of damage and theft of the submerged cultural heritage. The three columns found were the subject of precise photo-descriptive surveys and immediately registered in the database of the Carabinieri Cultural Heritage Protection Command, an activity that will allow them to be instantly identified in the event of any stealing and / or damage. While waiting for the precious finds to be brought back to the surface to be valued and returned to the unavailable heritage of the state, the TPC Nucleus of Rome, together with the Underwater Carabinieri, will patrol and control the area to prevent the commission of crimes. , as well as having measurements as faithful as possible, imposed the use of cameras of the highest level, properly set, which made it possible to record images of the finds that would have been impossible to see with the naked eye.