Sunken Ancient Roman City Of Baiae With All
Its Streets Imperial Villas And Statues
27 March, 2014
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MessageToEagle.com - Ancient sunken city of Baiae is located just 30 minutes northwest of Naples.
Baiae was one of the most important cities of Ancient Rome and Roman seaside resort, overlooking the Bay of Naples. It was a place where rich Romans and emperors spent their leisure time in their luxurious villas clustered in terraces all around the bay near Naples.
A city of Baiae - named after Baios, Odysseus' helmsman - was connected to the Roman Empire’s biggest naval base, Portus Julius, home port of the western Imperial Fleet of ancient Rome.
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Submerged remains of Emperor Claudius' nymphaeum (as found on display in the Phlegraean Fields' Archaeological Museum in the Aragonese Castle in Baia).
Over several centuries, Baiae was Naples Bay city, even more famous than Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Capri.
However, it was also city of scandals, corruptions and hedonistic temptations, according to ancient records.
A major philosophical figure of the Roman Imperial Period, Seneca, called Baiae a “resort of vice,” while Ovid, a Roman poet referred to it as a “favorable place for love-making.”
Famous for its prestigious baths and thermal springs, the ancient city of Baiae was a fashionable bathing and recreation area of the rich and famous individuals of the ancient times.
Emperors Caligula, Nero, Hadrian and Gaius Julius Caesar once owned elegant summer villas in Baiae. Cicero, a Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist entertained them during Saturnalia feasts - a holiday established in honor of Saturn.
Today Baiae - built during the time of Emperor Claudius - is not a playground of the Roman emperors anymore.
Floors of black and white mosaic attest to a long forgotten villas, remains of ancient amphorae were once held in emperors' hands - now are scattered across the ocean floor.
Baiae lies submerged in just a few feet of water, with all streets, imperial luxury villas and statues.
Due to high amounts of volcanic activities around Baiae, over a course of 2000 years, the ground level of Baiae kept rising and falling, which ultimately led Baiae and its port to collapse into the ocean.
The underwater environment takes us back into the past allowing us to view the reconstruction of the marble staues, the main street Herclanea and the surrounding thermal bath complex.
The first recovery of archaeological finds related to Baiae took place in the 1920s when, during the construction works pertaining to the widening of the docks at Port Venero, sculptures, architectonic elements and water systems with imperial insignias came to light.
One of Baiae's greater discoveries was a nymphaeum found in one of the sunken buildings. It belonged to Claudius (10 BC – AD 54), a Roman emperor from 41 to 54 (the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy).
Because he was afflicted with a limp and slight deafness due to sickness at a young age, his family ostracized him and excluded him from public office until his consulship, shared with his nephew Caligula in 37.
In the 1940s, aerial photographs taken by pilot Raimondo Baucher, provided evidence of the submerged archaeological area of Portus Julius in the shallow waters directly in front of Lake Lucrine.
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Unfortunately, despite interest raised by these discoveries, the first underwater survey of Baiae did not take place until the 1960s. The surveys conducted between 1959 and 1960 contributed to the first map of the sunken city.
Interesting were also finds in the vicinity of Punta Epitaffio at a depth of approximately 6 metres; a paved road flanked with buildings and statues continuing towards the sea, remains of other Baiae's structures reaching out into the sea by means of cemented jetties, now known to have belonged to the marine quarter of the Pisonian villa.
Additionally, approximately 400 metres from the present coast, numerous concrete pillars were discovered; pillars which confirmed the location of the ancient coastline.
The programme of surveying the area was unfortunately soon interrupted due to a lack of funds.
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