It seems like so long ago when we visited Naples, but I think it was only three days ago. Naples is not far from Pompeii and so we took a train to get there. It is a crowded city and it has a reputation for being a place where you can get a purse stolen easily, so you have to be careful. Naples is also not known particularly as an archaeological site, so it was very interesting to see what we saw. Rabin Taylor and Joe Alceres took us around Naples. They have been working on a book about archaeological finds in Naples. Joe is an expert in Medieval times and Rabin does Greek and Roman Naples.
When I was young my family had a cabin near a river. We would go there on vacation and sometimes I would explore the area and take walks through the woods. One time I found a discarded stove and some other stuff and I was intrigued. Where did these things come from? I imagine that something similar might happen for a child in Naples. You see, the modern city was built on top of the ancient city and so there are layers and layers of different remains. When you walk in the streets in most places Naples looks like a busy city with narrow streets, but UNDER the city there is a lot of really interesting history that archaeologists are just beginning to find. In fact in one place the archaeologists had to buy apartment buildings in order to dig and then they even found things under buildings and so they bought basements and first floors from some buildings! Imagine a kid in Naples going to the basement and wondering about something there. Would you ask questions until you figured out what something was? Here is a question that the archaeologists have not answered yet. They found 5 little rooms underground and there were these structures in each room. They sort of look like couches, but they are slanted. What do you think they are? They had to dig out a lot of fill dirt in order to find these rooms. What happens is that when something is not being used and people want to build something new they cover it over with fill dirt and then build on top of it. Under these buildings they found water channels and areas that they could identify as businesses. They also found a theater! At first there were plans to knock down the modern buildings in this whole area and reveal the whole theater, but they realized that it is important to save evidence from all of the different layers of things that happened in history, so they are trying to work carefully and keep evidence from the different centuries that they find.
Another example is found under this church. It looks like a big modern cathedral now, but it was built on top of an ancient temple. Some of the columns of the temple were reused in the cathedral. There are actually three different churches that you can access from this one church. When you go into it you are in the main cathedral. Then you come to the earlier church (which I do not have a picture of) and finally you can get to a baptismal area from the fourth century AD. It has a mosiac ceiling with biblical scenes shown. This is a picture of the wedding where Jesus turned the water into wine. Archaeologists have traced back even further and found evidence of this temple from the first century AD. Nearby they also found evidence of this market place. For hundreds of years people have been using the same foundations to construct new things on top of the old, so there are layers upon layers of information. In Naples there are over 600 miles of caves underground that were used for various things. We did not go into these caves, but I left Naples surprised with how much there was to discover. I am guessing that even most Napolean children have no idea of what is under their city!
People are still very religious in Naples. This is an example of a modern niche that we saw just along the street. People have these shrines outside their houses. I think this is one with burning martyrs.