Sunday, 3 January 2010

Naples Underground

It wasn't what I was expecting but still interesting...
First, it really is underground. 90 feet underground. For some reason we had it in our head it was going to be old ruins or something. Not so.
We, a group of about 6 families paid one of the local tour guides to take us. He does a lot of the tours you can buy on base and is at least a second generation tour guide and has an archaeological degree. He was the same guy that gave us the tour of the archaeological museum when we first got here. Setting it up on our own makes it cheap. We all took the subway down into Naples and met Aldo at the museum subway stop. He actually started the tour here. Naples is still developing their subway system but part of the problem is every time they start to dig a new station they uncover another archaeological site. There are about six different layers of civilization below the current surface. Over the past 2500 years there have been a number of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and even a tsunami type of an event. One of the pictures attached is of a site where they found three large boats, and the pillars of old piers from an older coast line about 2000 years ago. The picture is a model.
Below it all though is Naples underground. It started out with the Greeks as a quarry project to mine the tufa-stone for building. They would chip at/ put a crack in the wall and then hammer wood wedges in. Next add water. The wood expands and you now have a nice big piece of building material broke off. Later the Romans expanded on the idea and developed an elaborate aqueduct system. The tunnels go on for miles and miles. Some, as you can see in the picture, are skinny (to raise the flow rate of the water). You can not go down there without a guide. Its pretty neat to look up as you are standing at the bottom of ancient wells. There are some other large areas where the wealthier people above had it dug out and made deeper so there would be a pool. Not for swimming but so when the water level in the aqueduct went down, they would still have water... On several of the wells you can see where notches were cut out to allow for people to climb up and down the well to clean it out. Not a glamorous job. Think of it as a chimney sweeper who actually climbs down the chimney. Still later, it served the people of Naples as a bomb shelter in WWII.
Pretty interesting three hour tour. From the uncovered boats and pier to the elaborate and well thought out water system we all still just shake our heads at where the technology was 2000 years ago. To bad the Roman empire collapsed and sent Europe into a 1000 year recession... Maybe we would be like the Jetsons now...
Looking into one of the dug out areas.

This wasn't too bad. I had to turn side ways for a couple...

Where we went in.

The largest boat was about 30 meters. The black specks on the left are the old pillars.

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