Tuesday, 11 April 2017

pleasure barge

Acting on tips from local fishermen, archæologists are returning to Lake Nemi (known as Diana’s Mirror, speculum Dianæ, for its circular shape, owing to its volcanic origin) hoping to salvage the sunken wreck of Emperor Caligula’s third lost leisure boat.
Although the body of water on the outskirts of Rome was considered sacred and nothing was to pollute it (the grove of Diana Nemorensis, usually translated as Diana of the Wood), that did not stop Caligula extravagant parties—though to what extent he lived up to his reputation is somewhat debatable—on three cruise ships that were out-fitted with functional baths and climate control and decorated with marble and gold. After Caligula was assassinated, the ships were ballasted and sunk to the bottom of the lake, forgotten until Benito Mussolini, having consulted a fifteenth century manuscript, commissioned that the lake be drained in 1927 and recovered two of the ships two years later. The remains were housed in a specially built museum but the building and most of the artefacts were destroyed during World War II. The search efforts by divers for the third site in a different part of the lake are on-going.