The Submerged Archeological Park of Baia
Let’s dive in Baia’s waters in search of the ancient Roman city, nowadays submerged in the sea, as a consequence of the phenomenon of bradyseism.
Baia is a small city close to Pozzuoli, in the area of the Phlegraean Fields (from Greek: “burning earth”). The bottom of the sea along the Baia’s coast hides the submerged archeological park, conserving remnants of the ancient city, port and Roman villas.
The bradyseism phenomenon consists of uplifting and subsidence of the ground, provoked by magmatic instability, characteristic of the areas of volcanic origin. In the human perspective the phenomenon is quite slow. However, from the geologic point of view it reveals a certain velocity. As a consequence of bradyseism a part of the antique shoreline sank and submerged in the sea, including some buildings and ancient constructions.
In the ancient Roman period, the city of Pozzuoli was the most renowned commercial centre and Miseno was the main harbour of the Roman fleet. Baia, instead, was a small and popular residential area. Nowadays this antique city is completely submerged in the sea. The discovery of the subaqueous archeological site, thanks to the photos captured from an airplane by a pilot Raimondo Baucher, is dated to 1940s, but only twenty years later a concrete research was set out and consequently, the first archeological map of the site was drawn.
One of the most spectacular findings in the area is undoubtedly a road built of volcanic stone, supposedly lined by buildings from both sides. One of them is called Ninfeo (Nymphaneum- a holy shrine dedicated to a nymph and generally located nearby a water spring), belonging to the emperor Claudius, today collocated close to punta Epitaffio and ca. six meters underwater. Along the road one can observe other structures, or what remained out of them, being a part of an antique maritime district of the villa dei Pisoni. Some other concrete piers, called “Pilae”, were found over 400 meters away from the present coast, tracing its previous line. Other discovery was a group of sculptures named “Ulisse e compagno con l’oltre” that was emerged in the apsis of Ninfeo after a sea storm.
Constructions on the northern bank, since they were further from the commercial tracks, are better conserved. Proceeding to the east of the punta Epitaffio arise antique thermal baths, a villa with beautiful pavement ornaments, remnants of fish markets and some massive constructions. The southern part, instead, is cut through by some commercial traces, where ruins of buildings are barely visible.
A very suggestive itinerary not to be missed for those who are intent on get to know Naples through its natural, environmental, historic and cultural resources.