Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Next Stop: Second Century A.D. Volume 57 Number 2, March/April 2004

As Naples extends the underground reach of its subway system, dozens of archaeological sites and thousands of objects are being discovered, bringing different periods of Naples' past to light. Archaeologists have found the intricately carved marble facade and black-and-white mosaic flooring of an Augustan palace, medieval tombs, a perfectly preserved fourteenth-century fountain, and an abundance of lamps, jars, and other ceramics, among other discoveries.

The most recent find was made 30 feet down, in the shadow of the blackened towers of Castel Nuovo, where archaeologists uncovered a second-century A.D. ship. The vessel will emerge from the mud over the next few months. Archaeologists expect to find the hull intact, as mud and silt from the surrounding hills that oozed into the basin over the centuries created anaerobic conditions that probably preserved the boat.

Nearly 33 feet long, the coastal fishing vessel was found with hundreds of artifacts including broken crockery, intact long-handled amphorae, the soles of sailors' shoes, and wooden shards believed to be from the piers and docks where boats once moored. The amphorae were most likely lost while being unloaded from the ship, and the shoe soles were probably discarded overboard because of their well-worn condition.

Castel Nuovo, which houses the city's municipal offices, is now less than mile from the coast of the Bay of Naples, but nearly 2,000 years ago the site on which it sits would have been along the shoreline.

The city plans to leave the mosaics, tombs, and fountain in situ to be seen by some 470,000 daily commuters.

© 2004 by the Archaeological Institute of America