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The random searching of the ruins was forbidden by Carlo Fea, director general of antiquities, in the early nineteenth century. The first excavations, initiated by pope Pius VII (Ostia belonged to the Vatican), were carried out by Petrini in the years 1801-1805. Between 1824 and 1834 there was a renewed hunt for treasure, and the objects that were found can today be seen in several countries, even in the USA. More or less structural activities began once more in 1855, under the auspices of pope Pius IX. The excavators were Pietro Ercole and Carlo Ludovico Visconti. They too focused on inscriptions, statues, mosaics, and paintings, that were taken to the Vatican and Lateran museums. Sometimes marble and granite were taken to Rome as building material. The present museum was built. Wealthy foreigners now started to visit Ostia as tourists. The site was reached with some difficulty with carriages (a railway was opened in 1924).
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In 23 BC Tiberius was , the first step in his career. In 44 AD Claudius withdrew the from Ostia, and created a new office, that of the ("procurator of the grain-supply"), who worked for the ("prefect of the grain-supply") in Rome, who had been introduced by Augustus in the period 8-14 AD . The procurators belonged to the equestrian order. They were supported by clerks (, , etc.). The local grain-supply (many citizens received free grain, as in Rome) seems to have been coordinated by the , an office held by Imperial freedmen.