Il Serapeo ed i Granai Imperiali di Pozzuoli

Lirer, Lucio and Petrosino, Paola and Armiero, Valentina (2010) Il Serapeo ed i Granai Imperiali di Pozzuoli. Italian journal of geosciences, 129 (2). pp. 237-250. ISSN 2038-1727

[img] PDF
06_LIRER_ET_AL_237-250.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (1MB)
Official URL:


The present paper deals with the description of a similar mistake made at two different times, although many years passed between the two episodes. Twice, in fact, in Pozzuoli town, worldwide known for its bradyseismic testimonies, geological signatures useful to improve the knowledge of Campi Flegrei activity were fully disregarded. The first time was in the late 18th century, when the Serapis Temple was dug up, the second was more recently, in 1986, when the Granai Imperiali remnants were brought to light and soon after suddenly filled up. The Macellum, inexactly known as Serapis Temple, is one of the most important archaeological testimonies of the Roman domination in the Pozzuoli area and during Roman age it represented the main market of the town. It occupied a rectangular area bordered by 36 little rooms, the shops, whereas on a terrace in the centre of the square was located a rotunda, lying in front of a vestibule, called pronao, made up of eight Corinthian columns. The archaeological excavation campaign which brought to the light the Macellum began in 1750 and lasted until 1820. In those years attention was mostly drawn to the restoring and recovering of the building as it was dug up, neglecting the accurate stratigraphic description of the engulfing terrains while removing them. As a consequence, when the excavation phase ended, mankind had gained a highly valuable archaeological edifice, together with a good record of sea level variation supplied by the Lithophaga holes in the columns of the Macellum. Unfortunately, we had lost the stratigraphic information on the deposits which had buried the area, whose lithological content and texture had certainly recorded the slow variations of the sea level caused by the bradyseismic phenomena. The most detailed, and even nowadays the most accurate and precise study about the Macellum, was carried out by Charles Babbage in 1828 and, entitled Observations on the Temple of Serapis at Pozzuoli, near Naples, was published in 1847. Babbage in some rooms of the Macellum found a dark brownish crust (the dark incru - station) made up of salts and, at ca 2.74 m height from the floor, a continuous line, which in some rooms represented the top of a thick crust (the great incrustation). The two crusts testified to the presence of a little lake, formed as a consequence of the ground level lowering, which allowed the water to enter the building and mix with continental water without a direct connection with the sea. Only later, following a further lowering of the ground level, the sea succeeded in entering the Serapis Temple and, from that moment on, the Lithophaga started drilling the columns both of pronao and rotunda up to 5,79 m from the floor. In 1985, during the «Geological survey of the ancient centre of Pozzuoli» carried out by a group of geologists headed by one of the authors (L.L.), in consequence of the building excavation for a new post office in via Sacchini, were brought to light 16 rooms in which the archaeologists of Soprintendenza Archeologica later recognized the «Granai Imperiali» (Imperial Granaries). The Soprintendenza Archeologica carried out a preliminary survey which brought to light a wide building estate, made up of sixteen rectangular rooms with barrel vault disposed along two alignments. They represented a unique possibility of investigating the complex relationship between volcanism and history of the area, through the contemporaneous digging up of both the Roman edifices and the stratigraphic succession of products emplaced in mediaeval age. Furthermore, the presence of such buildings so close to the Se - rapis temple area, was soon used to enlighten their importance in the socio-economical onset of the Pozzuoli harbour in Roman age, because the archaeologists in the late Eighties were trying and finding the shops and the stores of wheat shipped from Alessandria d’Egitto to Pozzuoli for the needs of Rome. The stratigraphic succession of the products cropping out in the Granai Imperiali area was carefully described by the group headed by Lucio Lirer. In the present paper we make use of the results of that survey and, starting from the description of BABBAGE (1828), we present the results of a new detailed survey carried out on the few outcrops now visible in the area. This analysis aims at the complete reconstruction of the geological onset of the Temple of Serapis-Granai Imperiali area, taking into account the consequences of the repeated bradyseismic phenomena. Main purpose of the present paper is to enlighten scientific community on fragments of a little known literature about the Serapis temple, which, thanks to Charles Lyell’s researches, a lot of importance gained in the second half of 19th century. At the same time we want to spread the news of the finding of the Granai Imperiali archaeological site, which at present is buried under a city parking as a consequence of some rash decisions taken in 1986 by Soprintendenza Archeologica. In this regard we hope that the present paper will help to avoid, in the next future, similar damages to the fascinating both archaeological and geological heritage of Campi Flegrei

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Abstract anche in italiano
Uncontrolled Keywords: Serapeum, Bradyseism, Imperial Granaries, Pozzuoli
Subjects: 500 Scienze naturali e Matematica > 550 Scienze della Terra > 551 Geologia, Idrologia, Meteorologia > 551.7 Geologia storica (Classificare qui la Paleogeografia, la Stratigrafia)
900 Storia, Geografia e discipline ausiliarie > 930 Storia dei mondo antico fino al 499 ca. > 937 Archeologia – Penisola italiana e Territori limitrofi (per Archeologia medievale - Italia, vedi 945.01)
Depositing User: Users 66 not found.
Date Deposited: 31 May 2012 11:56
Last Modified: 31 May 2012 11:56

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item