Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

entry Mar 2008

Roman Amphitheater in Naples   (NOT the one in Pozzuoli!)

  Roman amphitheater beneath        
the historic center of Naples         
(photo courtesy of NUG)   
More News from Napoli Underground (NUG). Those Noble Noctivagators of the Neapolitan Netherworld, known by their NUG-handles as Fulvio and Ipogeo have done it again! The following text is from the English-language version of the NUG webpage and was kindly sent to me by the translator, Larry Ray, longtime Neapophile:

The conference room at Naples' famed National Archeological Museum was packed, with standing room only spilling out into the hallway as a conference got underway, reviewing work in progress on a major archaeological project beneath the ancient original Greco-Roman streets in the city's historic center. Archeologists and scientists have been working on an ongoing project to restore a huge Roman Colosseum or Amphitheater buried some 10 to 12 meters beneath today's bustling narrow alleyways and piazzas of the old city. Napoliunderground was represented by Fulvio and Ipogeo, who were were special guests, having been asked to prepare a photographic overview, as well as a Ipogeo's video tour of the area where the tedious work in the huge underground area is taking place. The conference was organized by architect Giancarlo Ferulano, of the City's metropolitan historic valuation department to present new discoveries from this major find which dates from the I and II centuries A.D.

Larry continues: "...the buildings above the old ruins follow its shape..[that is, a satellite photo, below, shows a  "wheel" shape seemingly cut into the mass of buildings in that area]...several pieces of original frescoes seem to be in remarkably good shape. It is easy to see the incorporation of earlier Greek foundations, which are fitted, flat stacked stones with no mortar, then the characteristic diamond-shaped small block brick, mortar-joined masonry of the Romans."

The curved street above number 33 in this map is, in fact, part of the contour Larry speaks of. It is above the south-east part of the ancient amphitheater. As of this writing (April, 2008), the only large-scale Roman sites excavated in Naples and open to the public are beneath San Lorenzo and the nearby Roman aqueduct (again, near #33 on the map). (Also, see the articles linked below.)  The San Lorenzo site was relatively easy to do since they excavated down through a church courtyard. There was no displacement of people from their dwellings to open the earth. This amphitheater presents a problem of a different order, as would most of the historic center of Naples if you decided to excavate significant sections of the ancient Roman city. I have just been down there snooping around and it is impossible to see from ground level just how many flats or how many people actually live above the amphitheater. I noticed a strange sign that says that the building (one of many within the "wheel" is the "property of the City of Naples...[and]...not intended for habitation." There certainly seem to me to be a lot of people living there right now. I don't expect this to be open any time soon to the public, but the photos provided by Napoli Underground are tantalizing.

See related entries at the Portal for Underground Naples.        to top of this page

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