Saturday, October 30, 2021

Undersea Dionysus

 Quite by chance, as we are about to begin reading Bacchae, we find the god beneath the waters of Baiae, Italy:

A copy of a statue of Dionysus, commissioned by Emperor Claudius,
in the Nymphaeum at Baiae.
 Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Fish flit around Enrico Gallochio as he gently brushes away a layer of sand to reveal an ornate mosaic floor on which Roman nobility would have hosted non-stop parties in Baiae, an ancient resort in the gulf of Pozzuoli, close to Naples. Four metres below the surface of the water, Gallochio passes more mosaic pavements and the remains of walls that once surrounded a spa.

The mosaics date from the third century and are just a small part of the remains uncovered since Baiae, now a vast undersea archaeological park, began to emerge from its watery grave. The site has become an unlikely tourism destination, even as work continues to uncover more ruins.

“It was incredible,” said archaeologist Gallochio, who manages the undersea park. “In this area alone, we have found 20 rooms. There is still so much to discover, but it is a job that will take years.”

Angela Giuffrida's story in The Guardian continues here.