The salt marshes date back to prehistoric times and played an important role as a salt works during the Etruscan and Roman civilizations. Subsequently, the saltworks fell into decay due to the barbarian invasions during the Middle Ages and were not restored until the 15th century. The Papal State took an increasing interest in the saltworks and their involvement reached its height in the 19th century when an enlargement of the facility was ordered under the direction of G. Lipari. The work began in 1803 but was halted after only a short time due to judicial controversy and then was finally completed in 1831. In the following years, the saltworks reached an elevated production level, so high in fact that it constituted one of the largest income sources for the Papacy. From the mid 19th century, the workers who had been exclusively inmates from the nearby prison of Porto Clementino were integrated with civilian employees from the surrounding area in order to optimize production. For this reason, it was necessary to construct separate buildings to be used by the public workers in the northern part of the facility. As such, a workers’ hamlet was set up to serve the needs and interests of the community workers, which included houses, a school, an administrative office, a leisure centre, a warehouse, wine cellars, shops, a tavern, and an infirmary (1876-95); a mechanic’s workshop, a church and sacristy, a water tank, and a building for selected salts (1917- late 1900s). These buildings were located along the main road and side streets leading up to the Saltworks. After World War II, with the increasing industrialization, the salt production in Tarquinia was no longer competitive on the market. Furthermore, due to flooding, some basins were rendered unserviceable. Salt production slowly diminished and the saltworks completely ceased to function in 1987. After much scientific and political debate on the future use of this facility ? during which time the salt marshes were officially declared a wildlife nature reserve in 1980, and the workers’ hamlet was placed under state ownership in 1997 ? it was decided to partly turn it into a scientific, environmental research centre run by the Tuscia University of Viterbo with European funding from “Project Life”. The natural oasis, however remains under the jurisdiction of the State Forest Rangers.