Underwater Roman Ruins

Pozzouli Bay - Southern Italy

During the classical Roman Age (2nd century B.C. to 4th century A.D.) many structures—wharfs, buildings, villas, fish tanks—where constructed along the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea.  One area were there was extensive construction was Pozzuoli Bay in near the city of Naples in southern Italy.


 Today, because of volcanic activity, these shoreline features are now as much as 27 feet below sea level.

Nisida Island Caesar Italy

Nisida Island in Pozzuoli Bay where in Roman times Brutus and Cicero met to conspire against of Caesar.

The base of the three columns were near sea level in the 1830s.

This vertical movement is most apparent at the Temple of Serapis in the center of the city of Pozzuoli.  Here stand three tall marble columns with curious markings.  The lower surface of each column is smooth to a height of 12 feet above the floor of the temple.  The next nine feet upward along each column have been bored into by mollusks, evidence that, after construction during the Roman Age, this section of each column was once below sea level.  Today the base of each column is about 6 feet above current sea level, evidence that the area has recently been pushed upward.

Serapis Temple Pozzouli 1986

The Temple of Serapis in the city of Pozzuoli.

The base of the three columns was three feet below sea level in 1970.

Serapis Temple Italy 1986

The base of the three columns was about three feet above sea level in 1988.

Underwater Roman ruins
underwater Roman ruins

There are many Roman ruins along the shoreline of Pozzuoli Bay, such as columns and tiled floors, that are still far below sea level.

underwater Roman ruins

And, because this is an active volcanic region—known as Campi Flegrei, or the Phlegrean Fields—volcanic gases are being emitted—and are easily collected underwater.

For more information:

The Mechanisms of Recent Vertical Crustal Movements in Campi Flegrei caldera, southern Italy