The Extension & Octagon

Looking towards the extension tunnel
Looking towards the extension tunnel

From the Greek temple, the tunnel today extends forward to an octagonal room that was clearly in its final phase a hot Roman bath, as its hypocaust floor is easily visible. In the pictures the purple line is where a tunnel exists today and the blue one is a probable original tunnel, although if this was human height, some kind of structure similar to the area of the Greek Temple would have been necessary. The later extension to the octagon is not human height, it’s much lower.

The start of the extension tunnel
The start of the extension tunnel
“Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints”
Responsible and respectful people abide by the above saying.  The plastic cups and other litter in the trench were left by a film crew in 2003 and had sat there until removed by Peter Knight and Graziano Ferrari in 2014.

A logical straight extension of the Great Antrum within the hill would have exited to a room precisely where there is a bricked-in rounded arch. Investigation behind that arch would determine if there are remains of a tunnel there or not.

A reconstruction showing where the tunnel may once have exited

Ritual or no ritual?

Virgil, who lived nearby, wrote his famous Aeneid where Aeneas prays to be allowed to descend to the underworld, so that he can visit his dead father. Descents to the underworld, with ritual death and rebirth for the individual, were part of the Greek Mysteries and Virgil was a known initiate, as was Augustus. So we know The Mysteries were observed in Roman times, in fact until the collapse of the Roman Empire. This could well be the site, by The Mysteries and Mythology will be explored on another page.

The later extension was, in its last phase, a Roman bath, the supports for a hypocaust are clearly, and yet there is evidence again that might make us pause and think.

The Octagon, tunnel entrance on the left
The Octagon, with tunnel entrance on the left and slot on the right

The entrance itself looks as if it was quite important at one time – too elaborate for steam entering under the hypocaust floor. Was this once a passage for humans?

Opposite the entrance on the left is an oblique slot, which directly faces the entrance – surely no accident.

The route into the Main Tunnel in the last Roman Phase of use.

Tunnel extensions

The blue line of the Great Antrum is possibly where an extension of the main tunnel exited to a room where a bricked up archway is visible.

The purple line is a later diversion, which involved cutting off a corner of the room.

Lines on the ground

Blue is the original antrum line. Purple is the later diversion.

In the extension tunnel

Looking all the way along the octagon extension tunnel from the octagon end. The roof is covered over with flat tiles, close to the surface, at ground level.

Octagon Entrance

A view of the tunnel from within the Octagon shows signs of conversion from a full height human tunnel to a later reduced height utility channel.

The curious Slot

Why is there this narrow gap in the wall? It isn’t square to it – it goes through at angle, precisely facing the tunnel entrance. This must surely have been an intentional decision. Was there a ritual purpose to the Octagon before it was made into a hot bath? The site survived a number of major earthquakes over 300-400 years and underwent numerous repairs and alterations.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. sally


    Thank you so much for this amazing website. I have recently learned this even existed from reading the book “lost Masters” by Linda Johnsen. I am fascinated by how the mythology/religion and literature has described this. I’m also fascinated by the connection of this mythology/religion has gone back so far in human history and has been so warped and at times covered up. We have come so far and yet not far at all from our ancestors! Amazing!

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