Roma – Underwater!

Underwater Neapolis.jpg

Some exciting reviews of underwater Roman ruins.

First, a discovery almost 50 acres of ruins off the coast of Tunisia. The North African city of Neapolis is believed to have been submerged after a tsunami in the 4th century AD destroyed most of it, as recorded by Roman soldier and historian  Ammianus Marcellinus. The natural disaster also badly damaged Alexandria in modern Egypt and the Greek island of Crete. This discovery seems to confirm this.

This is a two minute long segment, and below is a link to an article with more details:

Full article:

Image: A piece of Caligula's ship

Another appetiser is this little bit of Caligula’s pleasure barges. Built during his reign in 37-41 CE, these floating palaces on Lake Nemi were a symbol of decadence. These ships were sunk towards the end of his reign or soon after, and recovered in an archaeological operation in the 1930’s during Mussolini’s fascist regime. What’s particularly interesting about this sample of elaborate inlaid marble mosaic, is that it has somehow managed to end up as a coffee table in New York. Talk about bizarre twists of fate. The piece has been returned to the Italian government, and is on display in its embassy in NYC.

Full article here:

From a sunken ship to a sunken port. Another stunning discovery is the Roman port at Corinth. The city straddles the narrow land bridge to the Peloponnese peninsula, with harbours on both sides. Sacked by Rome in 146 BC in one of the most notorious and atrocious acts of war vandalism, it was later rebuilt by Julius Caesar. Thought to have been destroyed in earthquakes in the 6th or 7th centuries, the Lechaion port on the north-west side has been excavated and found to be amazingly preserved.

Full article (with video): They also have a Facebook page with more news.

Before we get to the main course of Roman seafood, here is another thrilling discovery. In the depths of the Black Sea, at a level where there is not enough light and oxygen for the organisms that rot wood to survive, a veritable graveyard of ships was found. Around 60 ships, starting from the 4th or 5th century BCE through the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras were found.

Full article:

Or – in a last digression, I promise – a whole sunken city. This one is about 5,000 years old (possibly the oldest known sunken city), and is right off the coast of Greece. I really should send Felix snorkeling some time soon.

Full article:

Now, as promised, the main event. Here is an hour long documentary of the sunken city of Baiae. It was an ancient Roman town situated on the northwest shore of the Gulf of Naples, and was a fashionable resort for centuries, particularly towards the end of the Roman Republic. At the time, it was reckoned as superior to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Capri by the ultra-rich who built luxurious villas here. Parts of it were later sunk due to the volcanic activity of Vesuvius. You can see underwater archaeologists explore the ruins here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s