After 1,700 Years, the Incredible Story of the Submerged City of Caesar’s Divers: Subterranean Hedon

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
July 10, 2023
After 1,700 Years, the Incredible Story of the Submerged City of Caesar s Divers: Subterranean Hedonism

The sunken city of the Caesars, which was lost for more than 17 centuries beneath the azure waters of the west coast of Italy, has been uncovered in breathtaking new pH๏τographs taken by divers who were granted permission to explore the area.

The Roman Version of Sin City Discovered in Naples
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Baiae was the ancient Las Vegas during the First Century of the Roman Empire, when the city became synonymous with luxury and chaotic parties featuring copious quanтιтies of wine and the highest level of decadence. During Baiae’s heyday, prominent Roman Caesars such as Julius Caesar, Nero, and Hadrian, who all perished in the city, frequently visited. This may explain how Baiae earned the nickname “The Sunken City of the Caesars.”


Baia was a luxurious resort that was submerged about 1700 years ago. (Image provided by Pen News/Antonio Busiello)

Baiae was deemed superior to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Capri at the end of the Roman Republic, despite having been an ancient resort for millennia. Baiae would eventually become desolate. The littoral retreated 400 meters inland as a consequence of volcanic activity, submerging a significant portion of the city in what is now the Gulf of Naples. Divers have discovered numerous intact treasures in the city in recent years, as reported by the Daily Mail.


The imposing statues of Baiae reflect the city’s wealth. (Image provided by Pen News/Antonio Busiello)

While pH๏τographing the site, Naples native Antonio Busiello observed that roads, walls, mosaics, and even statues had survived the vagaries of time. “The beautiful mosaics, villas, and temples that have reemerged or are still submerged demonstrate the wealth and opulence of this region,” he said, as reported by the Daily Mail.  For centuries, it was regarded as one of the most significant Roman settlements. Pliny the Younger witnessed and described the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 A.D. from this location across the inlet.

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Occasionally, extraordinary artifacts are discovered just a few meters beneath the surface. (Image provided by Pen News/Antonio Busiello)

Investigating History
This was not the first time divers had explored the site in search of remnants of the once-grand metropolis, according to the Daily Mail. Numerous artifacts have been uncovered over the years at the dive site where the sunken marvel was spotted for the first time in 1940 on an aerial pH๏τograph. Earlier in 2017, a documentary тιтled Rome’s Sunken Secrets followed a series of dives led by underwater archaeologist Dr. Barbara Davidde and historians and scientists from around the world. In the city located 150 miles south of Rome and 50 miles north of Pompeii, diving explorers discovered enormous villas, fantastic statuary, and breathtaking mosaics, as well as heated baths, cobbled streets, and even a nymphaeum – a pleasure grotto.

Floods unearth Roman ruins close to the well-known Gulf of Baiae crossing. Nero, one of the “Worst” ancient Roman emperors, had an unexpectedly compᴀssionate side.


Busiello describes diving at this location as a “truly unique experience” (PH๏τo courtesy of Pen News/Antonio Busiello).

The Daily Mail quotes Busiello as saying, “Diving here is like a dive into history; seeing ancient Roman ruins underwater is difficult to describe, a truly beautiful experience.”

The “L Pisonis” Inscription
A segment of lead water conduit with a diameter of a few inches and the inscription “L Pisonis” was among the significant discoveries. This pinpoints the location of one of the most infamous controversies in Roman history, according to the experts. According to Kevin Dicus, a professor of antiquities, “L Pisonis was the family mark of the Piso family,” as reported by the Daily Mail.  Dr. Dicus continues, “The villa was almost certainly possessed by the intimate companion of Emperor Nero, Gaius Calpurnius Piso. Ancient texts indicate that Piso intended to ᴀssᴀssinate the emperor at his vacation villa in Baiae so that he could ascend to the throne, but he altered his mind at the last minute. When Nero discovered the plot, he ordered Piso to kill himself. The location of the attempted ᴀssᴀssination is now known. It was comparable to archaeologists finding the Holy Grail.”


(Image provided by Pen News/Antonio Busiello)

Divers have since discovered even grander estates in the submerged city, one of which may have belonged to Emperor Claudius, despite the fact that the Piso family’s impressive villa had its own jetty and expansive bath facilities.