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Secrets of the Dead

Nero’s Sunken City

Nero’s Sunken City

Wednesday, March 29, at 10 p.m.
Repeats Thursday, March 30, at 4 a.m.

Beneath the turquoise waves of the Bay of Naples lies an extraordinary underwater archaeology site, the ancient Roman city of Baiae. From the first century to the third century AD, Baiae was the exclusive playground for the rich and powerful among Rome’s elite. What made Baiae such a special place? What really went on there? And why did it disappear?

For the first time, an international team of scientists, archaeologists and historians is meticulously mapping the underwater ruins and piecing together evidence that could provide answers to these questions. SECRETS OF THE DEAD chronicles this investigation, uncovering what life was like in Nero’s Sunken City.

While some of Baiae’s ruins remain intact on land, more than half of this coastal city is submerged under water. These underwater ruins are three times the size of those in Pompeii. Archaeologists have found a network of roads, miles of brick walls and villas with rich marble floors, and splendid mosaics. But what they haven’t found are any identifiable public buildings—no forum, temple or market place.

The remains consist of one vast luxury villa after another—a Roman Beverly Hills—with elaborate spas and water features, marble statues inspired by Greek art, ponds for farming fish and more. The villas were like miniature cities. No expense was spared to create these seaside vacation homes where barges floating in the bay were the site of raucous parties.

In the fourth century AD, seismic activity caused half of Baiae to sink into the bay. Located 150 miles south of Rome, Baiae remains one of the least explored places in the Roman Empire, until now.

 

Visit the SECRETS OF THE DEAD website.

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