Archaeological excavations of Cumae
The history of Cumes, the first colony of Magna Graecia, then later conquered by the Roman Empire. From the myth of the Sibyl to what remains today.
First Greek Colony
Address: Via Monte di cuma, 3-Loc. Cuma
GPS coordinates to reach the parking: 40.848278, 14.054923
Opening hours: every days 9.00a.m. - one hour before sunset
Price ticket: € 4 - Reduced price ticket: € 2
Combination Ticket € 8 - Combination reduced Ticket: € 4
With the combination Ticket you can visit: Cumae, Flavian Amphitheater (Pozzuoli), The Castle of Baia, Archaeological Park at Baia
Tel: +39 081 804 04 30
Web site : Pafleg.it - Beni culturali's Web site : Beniculturali.it
Cumae was a city of the Campania region. It was a historical and cultural city of the ancient world.
It was one of the oldest Magna Graecia colonies, maybe the first one. Founded in the 8th century BC (Maybe in 740 BC) during the Iron age. Then it was abandoned during the Middle Ages, around 1200 AD.
It's located north of Naples, in front of Ischia Island, on the Campania region coast, in the province of Pozzuoli (The Phlegraean Fields). The name of this land came from the Greek meaning: burning land, because there are many hydrothermal phenomena, such as fumaroles and hot springs, because it's a volcanic area.
The colonized land was very fertile, and the settlers immediately became farmers.
They were also skilled maritime traders, so their political and economic power grew very quickly. They extended their territory to the Sorrento peninsula: the whole bay of Naples.
The Greek culture developed rapidly:
- The Greek Alphabet.
- The Sibyl of Cumae (Sibilla Cumana), the priestess of the oracle of Apollo (Greek god of the sun).
- The adulation of Greek deities: Zeus (King of the gods), Poseidon (God of the sea), Ares (God of war) etc.
When the Roman empire conquered Cumae, the Greek gods were incorporated into Roman ones. Roma changed their name: Zeus became Jupiter, Poseidon became Neptune.
The legend of Cumaean Sibyl
The legend tells de story of Apollo (Greek deity of sun). He was in love with a young virgin: Sybil.
He would have liked the young woman became his priestess. In exchange she could have anything she wants.
So she just asked the immortality without the eternal youth. It was a huge mistake.
Over the years she grew older and older and her body becomes weak, tiny and very very used up, until she vanished and just the voice remained
How Sybil predicted the future?
Sybil listened attentively the requests from the people. Then She wrote the answers on some leaves that was mixed by the wind created by Apollo.
So as the leaves was shuffled together, Sybil had to interpreted the future.
The people did not always appreciate the response, because it was the word on air (in English means fallen on deaf ears).
Timeline of Cumae history:
- 524 B.C.
The first battle of Cumae was against the Etruscans and other people of the Campania region. Cumae's location was perfect for economic expansion on the Mediterranean waters. Cumae won the battle.
- 474 B.C.
The second battle of Cumae was still against the Etruscans. This time Cumae was allied with Syracuse (the other Magna Graecia colonies in Sicily). The naval fleet of Greek federates of Sicily and Campania regions again defeated the invaders.
- 438 B.C. or 421 B.C (uncertain date).
The cumans was weakened by the last battle. They were conquered by the Samnites (people from south-central Italy). Under this new domain, Cumae saved the Greek cults and customs.
- 338 B.C.
Rome extended its domination of the Campania region, and Cumae obtained the "civitas sine suffragio" (The empire gave Cumans Roman citizenship, but they could not vote).
The third battle of Cumae. The People of Campania region found a new alliance to conquer Cumae: the Carthaginians of Hannibal from northern Africa. This time the Cumans were allies with the Roman Empire. They defeated the invaders.
- 180 B.C.
Cumae obtained the right to use the Roman language (the Latin language) in official documents.
- Around 10 A.D.
The Roman Empire built Aqua Augusta (also called Serino Acqueduct) it was 96 km long. It's started in Serino's clean water source on the Terminio Montain, arrive in Bacoli (province of Pozzuoli) in a big Cistern named Mirabilis.
- From 44 A.D. to 31 A.D.
Roman Civil War. A naval battle in the waters of Cuma. Octavian (also known as Augustus) against Sextus Pompey. There were no winners.
After these dates, Cumae became a quiet and peaceful place, where it became one of the most important Christian centers of the region of Campania.
Cumae was conquered by the Byzantine Empire, also named Eastern Roman Empire.
- 542 A.D.
Cumae was conquered by the Ostrogoths (peoples who came from the country that we now call Germany).
- 558 A.D.
Cumae was conquered again by the Byzantine Empire.
- 717 A.D.
The fortress of Cumae was conquered by the Duchy of Benevento, the Longobards (other people who came from the country that we now call Germany).
Cumae was conquered again by the Byzantine Empire again (Ducky of Naples).
- Around 900 A.D.
Cumae was conquered by the Saracens, from northern Africa
- 1207 A.D.
The Neapolitans defeated the Saracens. From that moment Cumae was uninhabited, because some rivers were buried. The territory became a great quagmire.
- From 1610 A.D. to 1616 A.D.
The kingdom of the Bourbons of Naples made a reclamation of the territory of Cumae.
- During the Second World War, the acropolis of Cumae was used as a bunker. From the top it was easier to use the cannons.
All the archaeological remains found in this area are exhibited in the archaeological museum of the Phlegraean fields, located in the Aragonese castle of Baia.