Roman Marble Head Found In Lake Nemi Could Be From Caligula’s Legendary Ships

Kane Khanh | Archeaology
July 26, 2023


A large Roman marble head has been discovered at the bottom of Lake Nemi in the Lazio region of Italy 30 km (19 mi) south of Rome, Italy.

The discovery is fascinating because there is reason to believe the head could be from one of the legendary ships of the famous Roman Emperor Caligula.

Roman Marble Head Found In Lake Nemi Could Be From Caligula's Legendary Ships

Credit: Castelli Notizie

According to Italian media reports, the discovery was made during routine work to clean the bed of the lake in the Castelli Romani town. The Nemi City Council announced the stone head and the submerged site are currently being examined. Experts have been called in to investigate if more artifacts are hidden underwater. The public has been asked “to respect the integrity and delicacy of the site where the discovery was made,” reports La Repubblica newspaper.

Known as the “Emperor’s Ships”, Caligula’s ships were imposing floating structures used for entertainment and displays of power. Their history is shrouded in mystery as they were purposely weighted down and sunk after the assassination of Caligula.

“Between 1927 and 1929, archaeologists drained Lake Nemi, south of Rome, to bring to light two great ships of Emperor Caligula. This discovery was the largest archeology find of its kind to date and one of the most important contributions to improving the knowledge of the technique of the Roman army.

“The archaeological remains of the two lavish ceremonial ships, built under the reign of Caligula in the first century AD, were recovered between 1928 and 1932 after Mussolini ordered the draining of the lake.

The enormous ships, which had been hidden 18 meters below the lake surface for centuries, were subsequently housed in a nearby purpose-built museum which was destroyed by fire on the night of 31 May 1944, during world war two.

The purpose of the ships, one larger than the other, remains the source of speculation, with the larger vessel believed to have been an elaborate floating palace, which contained marble floors and mosaics, fountains, heating, plumbing, and baths,” Wanted in Rome reports.

“Today there is a full-scale replica of the first ship in the Museum of Roman Ships ( Museo delle Navi Romane ) in Nemi, along with various objects and parts recovered from the original ships. In the Palazzo Massimo, in Rome, there is a room dedicated to shipwrecks where some of the most impressive salvaged bronze pieces are preserved, such as a high-quality head of Medusa,” El Debate reports.