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The Ancient Baths of Baiae;
Observations and Inferences (1 of 3)

by
Julissa Mendez, Darren Peterson & Erna Schas
Ital333, Prof. Barbara Nucci, March 1999

      Baiae, named after Baios, the navigator of Odysseus who died near the shores of Baiae, is now largely under the sea.  The city is located in the Campania region of southern Italy, on a hillside, towards the western end of the Bay of Naples.  Once, it was one of the most luxurious and fashionable resort areas in the Roman Empire.  Prominent members of the Roman aristocracy, such as Julius Caesar, Nero and Gaius, had villas built there.(Guido 30) 

A Chronology of
Events in Italy

60,000 BC - 1300 AD

1300 AD - 1998 AD

     Some of the most notable events in Roman history occurred in Baiae; Nero murdered  his mother Agrippina, Hadrian died there in 138 AD, Gaius, better known as Caligula, built his famous bridge of boats and Claudius built a great villa for his wife, Messalina.  It is said that 
Cleopatra was staying in Baiae at the time of Julius Caesar’s death in 44 BC.   It was Baiae’s mild climate, attractive surroundings and medicinal springs that attracted some of the most important names in Roman society.(Blanchard 186) 
     Today little remains of the thermal establishments, terraces, promenades and porticoed gardens.  What does remain can be seen at the Archaeological Park of Baia.  In order to better understand the history of this ancient city, we decided to visit the archaeological park. 

     What is now known as the villa of the "Ambulatio" is the first complex we encountered as we began our tour of the archaeological park.   The villa of the "Ambulatio", which dates back to the end of the 2nd century BC, gives a general idea of what a typical Roman Villa might have looked like.  The "Ambulatio" was intended for leisurely walks, reading, and to serve as a retreat for its wealthy owners.  Along the portico, we found numerous architectural fragments that have been brought up from the waters of the port of Baia. 

     We noticed along the fourth terrace two parallel corridors and the original wall which were the foundation of the villa.  The parallel corridors lead to a series of rooms that have been interpreted as servants’ quarters.  The wall that is the basis of the villa, visible along the western side, is made up of an architectural facade with blind arches and semi columns. 

 

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