With the onset of World War II, much of Marseilles was damaged by Allied bombings. Once the war had ended, an extensive rebuilding campaign commenced. In 1947, excavation work associated with the reconstruction of the city, revealed the ruins of an ancient Roman shipping warehouse, located west of the Old Port, between City Hall and the Marseilles Cathedral. These ruins are one of only a few Roman commercial warehouses remaining in the world.
Eventually, the ruins were converted into a small museum, known as the “Museum of Roman Docks.” It’s exhibits depict discoveries of the ancient city made during the rebuilding process, including artifacts discovered from amongst shipwrecks in the harbor area. These artifacts include a large selection of amphora vessels, along with rare ceramic jugs known as “dolias” (many from the fifth century BC) belonging to the ancient tribes of the region.
Opened in 1963, the Museum of Roman Docks have several exhibits that trace the history of trade with Rome, including the ancient system of weights and measures. While exploring this smallish museum will not encompass the expenditure of a tremendous amount of time, the learning experience gleaned from its exhibits is well worth it.