Slobodan Dan Paich  Comparative Culture Papers

Presented September 26-29, 2012 at the Istituto Studi Mediterranei, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano and Partners, Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland

Director and Principal Researcher

Artship Foundation, San Francisco, USA

World, Underworld and Other World

Myth, Enigma, Reality and Archeology of two Ancient Mediterranean Cities-Pozzuoli and Cumae


We open with the geographic context of the volcanic region of Campania where the two cities are located. We continue with a brief probing into cultural context by looking at few paintings representing urban scenes. Piero della Francesca painting of a renaissance ideal town is paired with several Pompeian frescos of real and imaginary urban views. This brief comparative inquiry sets the tone and opens questions about the diversity and commonality of Mediterranean cities across time and territories.

Examination of two specific urban areas helps reflect upon the nature of Trans-Mediterranean connections of cities in general. The issues explored are maritime federations, trade, bonds of colonies to their mother-city and alliances after the Roman Conquest. The two samples also offer rich material for questions on urbanity as cultural behavior and city-state as a social and economic unit.

Cumae and Pozzuoli offer examples of construction by curving out or building up. Sanctuary of Cumean Sybil is cut from a living rock. Pozzuoli was one of the primary sources of the volcanic sand that is basis of Roman cement. History of building materials and techniques presents tangible evidence of physical shaping and cultural characteristics of Urbanity.

Oracular presence of Sybil of Cumae opens questions about the role of sanctuaries in the network of the Mediterranean. The Cumean Oracle chambers and the life size model of Hades at lake Avernus were part of the same symbolic enactments.

In asking some meta-questions about aspirations and governance of ancient Mediterranean urbanity, we look at traces of Plato's Republic (380-BC) in Thomas Campanella, City of the Sun, (1602-AD). The conclusion presents a diachronic appraisal of the cultural phenomenon of identifying with a defined territory, a domicile, a city-state and the worldly engagements, collective rituals and personal symbolizing that living together brings.

Keywords: Urban History, Cumae, Pozzuoli, Ancient building techniques

Starting with inborn wisdom of the body-the infant reflexes. Continuing with an exploration of the cultures of carrying the baby and the internal and external space of child development as a field of mutual discovery and learning between a parent and a baby.

Context-Costal Campania a volcanic region
We open with the geographic context of the volcanic region of Campania where the two cities are located. The cities and land around the Bay of Naples form the volcanic region of Campania. It consists of Mount Vesuvius, a latent active volcano that erupted as recently as sixty-eight years ago. On the other side of the bay and part of the seismic complex is Campi Fleggray, formed by the redistribution of landmass and lava after volcanic eruption. This rearrangement of landscape happened as magma emptied out from beneath causing the land to collapse into the empty space that created a large distinct area. The volcanic Campi Fleggray is the landscape and the terrain neighboring to Pozzuoli and Cumae. Part of the Campi Fleggray landscape is Salfatara, a large field-like shallow creator of babbling hot mud and emissions of sulfur vapor. Also this volcanic region stretches south of Vesuvius and includes the dormant volcano Mount Epomeo on the island of Ischia and a number of inactive volcanoes situated below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea.

We continue with a brief probing into cultural context by looking at a few paintings representing urban scenes. Piero della Francesca's painting of a renaissance ideal town is paired with several Pompeian frescos of real and imaginary urban views. This brief comparative inquiry sets the tone and opens questions about the diversity and commonality of Mediterranean cities across time and territories.

Piero della Francesca (1417-1492) was born and died in Sansepolcro a town in Tuscany close to the Umbrian border. The town's connection to the Malatesta family and Florence signal Piero della Francesca's trajectory between Florence, Urbino, Arezzo, Ferrara, Rome and Rimini.

In Florence his contemporaries and artistic circle were Fra Angelico, Luca della Robbia, Donatello and Brunellsshi among whom he was respected and treasured as artist and mathematician.

In the Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini, Piero della Francesca worked in the mid fifteenth century for the condottiero Sigismomondo Pandolfe Malatesta. Piero della Francesca must have shared his thoughts and discoveries with Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti who had redesigned the Tempio Malatestiano and was also a mathematician and architectural theorist.

Piero della Francesca's surviving writings [i] deal with, among other subjects, the geometry of five regular solids also known as Platonic Solids and link him to the center of the Platonic thought shared and nurtured among artists and thinkers of his time that culminated in the founding of the Platonic Academy in Florence in the mid fifteenth century. The Original Academy was shut down in Athens by Byzantine ecclesiastical authorities in the fifth century AD as a pagan institution. It went underground and at the time of Piero della Francesca. Its proponent George Gemistos, nicknamed Plathon was close to the Malatesta and Medici families and was considered a living inspiration and teacher to many Platonist of his time. One of the central themes of Platonic Thought was the notion of the ideal city as developed in the Plato's Republic. Piero della Francesca's perspective study of an Ideal City was a direct response to the notion of city as harmonic unit. The early Renaissance perspective was a celebration of the numerical order of the universe and was almost a Neo-Platonic ritual that, by rational and mathematical means, reconstructed and represented nature.

The reason we bring the images and summary of Piero della Francesca's cultural currents, is to evoke a sense of the memorable links and ideas associated with the Mediterranean City and City States that resonate across time and contribute to the notions of urbanity as a cultural phenomenon.

Pompeian Cityscapes and Mythological Frescos
As we mentioned earlier, the coastal land of Campania centered on the Bay of Naples is a volcanic region of volatile nature evident in all aspects of geology and life since prehistory. The city of Pompeii's catastrophic burial and disappearance was a direct result of the eruption in 79 AD of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii with neighboring Herculaneum was covered with pumice and ash from the eruption that was four to six meters deep. Discovered in the mid eighteenth century AD, Pompeii was hidden for over a millennium and a half. The archeological findings have provided extraordinarily detailed insight into daily life and symbolic values of the Ancient Roman Empire's city life. The excavated houses were adorned with frescos of cityscapes. One characteristic of these paintings was their use of available light in the shady and cooler environment of the rooms. The eye adjustment responds naturally at a certain rhythm and perceives colors in particular order from the bright Mediterranean light outside, to more subdued interior lighting. White is seen first so the implied marble architectural superstructure holds the composition. Yellows and the ocher of trompe l'oeil 's wooden paneling and structural details appear next and soften the marble elements. Subsequently the painted scenes and details became clear. The black or dark background merges with the subdued lighting of the room and creates a sfumato effect that envelops and holds the entire composition. In a number of beautifully executed cityscapes, often with a mythological theme, it is hard to separate the appreciation, celebration of urbanity from the implied meaning and associative allegorical connections.

The frescos share with Piero della Francesca a notion of urbanity as the apex of a civilized and discerning way of life, and of a city as having the potential for expression and integration of the complexity of social interactions and contradictions. Although Piero della Francesca had not seen these particular frescos, the Mediterranean tradition of formation and continuous existence of cities, informs both pictorial renderings with mytho-philosophical subtext beyond factual representation.

Amenities of Ancient Cities When the Romans entered the port of Tarentum in 282 B.C. the people did not fight against the fleet, because everybody was in the theater enjoying the hilaro—tragodia the fashionable form of comic theatre of the day. The above paragraph is adapted from The History of the Greek and Roman Theater, by M. Bieber[2]. This description opens our thinking about amenities and urban attitudes of ancient Mediterranean cities, the partial list below points to features that distinguish city living from habitations of shepherds and farmers. The list starts with ritual and symbolic places that mark cultural alliances and follows with some practical amenities.

For example, public bathing as an expression of daily habits of urbanity was central to Roman city life. Bathing, like sophisticated domestic life, depended on plentiful and constant water supply provided by the institution and construction of Aqueducts. Using gravity the water was brought to cities not only through typical aqueducts arch construction, but also through tunnels, reservoirs and sleuth systems.

Urbanity-De urbanitate
R. A. Billows in A Companion to the Hellenistic World, chapter twelve titled Cities writes:

...infrastructure and accompanying administrative institutions. Several authors [...] present what is virtually a checklist of the physical infrastructure a city must have to be considered worthy of the term polis: surrounding walls, a monumentally defined agora, a theatre, at least one gymnasion, stoas, fountain houses, a council house and/or prytaneion (town hall) And with this infrastructure went administrative offices—the agoranomos (market warden), the gymnasiarchos (head of gymnasium), amphodarchai (street governors), astynomoi (city wardens)—each of which should be properly defined and regulated by administrative laws.
Just reading the municipal titles of citizens responsible for certain urban features evokes life of the ancient Greek cities.

In an interesting chain of references J. W. Rich and A, Wallace-Hadrill, in their City and Country in the Ancient World cite Quintilian's De Oratore, quoting poet Domitius Marsus prose work on wit-De urbanitate:

[...] the urbane man is one who frequently produces neat sayings and responses; who in conversation, social gatherings, dinners, and similarly in public meeting and in fact in all circumstances speaks wittily and appropriately.

Rich and Wallace-Hadrill summarize the ancient authors discussing the town as the home of urbanitas: the polish and culture of a civilized man that expressed itself in cultivated manners and wit in contrast with rusticitas, the uncouth conduct of the uneducated rustic. They quote Ovid [3] comment on rusticity in Ars Amatoria:

Rude Simplicity belonged to days of old: Rome is golden now. ... Culture is with us, and Rusticity, that relict of erstwhile ancestors, never survived into our times.

Ovid's provocative statement about traditional values was familiar to Romans of his time and was part of their identity as urbanites. Rich and Wallace-Hadrill contextualize Ovid's remark with the following statement about town dwellers and their country estates:

[leving city of Rome]... the place of vice for the [country] place of old Roman virtue: but they also left behind the comfort and the culture of the town. It was therefore necessary to import the culture of the town into the contryside. On the other hand to be a Roman gentleman it was necessary to be a good farmer: on the other hand, to avoid being a rustic, it was necessary to be seen as urban even in the country

Rich and Wallace-Hadrill further articulate the relationship of the Roman Empire to self -governing City—States and the political or symbolic structure that unites them:

When it came to imposing order on the barbarians, the Romans left no doubt of their commitment to the town as an instrument of civilization. Urbanization is the unmistakable result of Roman control, and indeed without the self-governing mechanisms of the city-state Roman imperial government could scarcely have operated.

Rich and Wallace-Hadrill by looking at dynamics of Pax Romana concur in a broadest sense with R. R. Holloway's observations we mentioned earlier, that the federal sanctuaries gave the Aegean and Italian communities the ability to act in union. R. R. Holloway's stated that leagues or amphictionies became first the basis of Greek survival and then of the Roman commonwealth. We could say that a subtle difference between the Greek and Roman model is that the Greek paradigm starts with a sanctuary allegiance followed by politics while the Roman model is a political over-structure bringing with it sanctuaries and deities. Rich and Wallace-Hadrill write:

Municipal charters disseminated from Rome imposed administrative structures based on town, and explicitely required the residence of members of the ruling ordo within the town or the first milestone. However questionable the morality of amenities of city life, there could be no doubt of the advantages of introducing them to the local barbarian elites...

The two ancient Mediterranean, almost neighboring cities of Pozzuoli and Cumae the main theme of this paper, offer at closer look, a comparison of these two urban convening paradigms.

Amenetes and Resources To understand the Mediterranean city, or any ancient city under the Mediterranean sphere of influence, we engage in a short inquiry into the sources of revenues for maintaining the infrastructure and cultural programming. L. Migeotte discusses Taxation and Public Expenditure in his work The Economy of the Greek Cities: From the Archaic Period to the Early Roman Empire: The primary source (poros) of revenue (prorodos) for cities, however, was taxation, which targeted economic activities above all. The ancient origin of taxation went back to the contributions in kind that community leaders, in the Mycenaean and subsequent periods, lived on the possessions or products of private individuals. Little by little, taxation become a feature of the public domain (koinon), acquiring its more or less definitive form in the archaic period, a time when public institutions were taking shape and the use of minted money was speading.

L. Migeotte continues by stating that "the city was the basic milieu for taxation." L. Migeotte reflects on the documentary evidence when the classical period taxes were diversified and levied proportionaly to the wealth of the citizans. L. Migeotte writes that the wealthiest citizens were culturally presumed to contribute substantially when they assumed a role of public service. Contributing resources to the organization of choruses and festivals or bulding and maintaining public works are examples.

Plato's dialog Symposium, was set as a dinner celebrating literary victory of Agathon the poet and playwrite, the symposium's host. Like all the dialogs it is full of references to city amenites, places and urban attitudes. Because the host of the Symposium was a playwrite, the patronage/support and value of plays and theater as a cultural necessity of urban life was palpable.

A thousand years later there are numerous examples of how the wealthiest citizens contributed substantially. Medici family played that type of role in Florence, Malatesta in Rimini, Montefeltro at Urbino just to mention a few we already cited in relationship to Piero della Francesca and the Renaissance city. This urban behavior and expectation point to the continuity of the Mediterranean tradition of city-states and citizens participation in commissioning, improving and maintaining cultural amenities, infrastructure and defense.

Urbanes, a proposed apex of civilization as we explored earlier, was disparaged as decadent or idealized as refinement by ancient writers. But pride of belonging, identity and even the last names sometimes reflected the place of origins and a deep sense of values attached to the existence of the independent City-States.

Pozzuoli—from Greek origins to Roman Navy
Pozzuoliii initially under the protectorat of Cume, was founded by political exiles from Samos in 530 B.C, with a name Dicaerarchia-Greek for Just Government. In our opinion the political refugees' story reflects the complicated history of the Island of Samos, only just over one kilometer from the coast of Asia Manor and under rule of tyrants. Probably the tyrant was Aeaces, the father of Polycrates and Syloson, all tyrants navigating the allegiances between the Persian Empire, Pharaonic Egypt and defending Samos from the Ionian Federations of Greek cities. The refugees sought a Greek type of urban affiliation and protection of Cumae, the oldest Greek colony on what is today Italian mainland.

Mortimer Wheeler in his book Roman Art and Architecture [4] writes about some quintessential regional traits that shed light on both the cultural archetype of the Greek city, but also shows that the urban phenomena existed as a societal, parallel cultural manifestation among other Mediterranean and inland kingdoms and federations. He writes:

There is enough to show that Smyrna [on the cost of Asia Minor] in the time of Homer had an orderly civic aspect of a kind and shape remarkably reminiscent of the Phaeacian city of King Alcinous in the Odyssey, with its walls, its houses, its market-place (agora), its fine stone temple of Poseidon, and 'an excellent harbour on each side'. The persistent tradition that Homer was born in Smyrna fits happily into the picture. In short, on the threshold of the Greek world the litterature and archaeology of Ionia converge upon the primary condition of the Hellenic way of life—the city.

After three centuries, in 194 BC Dicaerarchia became a Roman Colony re-named Puteoli. Before building the port of Ostia nearer Rome, Puteoli was one of the most important ports for Rome's Mediterranean trade. As a Roman port, it experienced an imperial development boom and post -Ostia downsizing, but it always remained an important trading center in antiquity.

Roman Navy
Nigel Rodgers in his enciclopedic book Ancient Rome [4] writes:

The Mediterranean, which the Romans called both Mare Internum, the inner sea, and Mare Nostrum, our sea, might appear to be at the centre of the Roman empire. In fact, however, the Romans were never great sailors. Unlike the Greeks, they only turned to controlling the seas when they were forced to. Rome's navy was always markedly inferior in status to its army and the might of the empire was built on land. But in order to conquer and then control their expanding empire, the Romans needed to gain sufficient mastery at sea, having, at the very least, modest permanent fleets—a fact Augustus finally accepted.

Due to this rising need for a Roman Navy, the strategic importance of Sinus Puteolanus-Bay of Puteoli, now the Bay of Naples, was recognized. The Naval base at Puteoli /Misenum harbored the largest naval fleet in the ancient world. Pozzuoli, prior to building of Ostia Harbor, was along with Alexandria, one of the most important ports in the Roman Mediterranean. Pozzuoli was recognized and cherished as a commercial and military port, particularly during the Punic wars, the outcome of which established Roman supremacy of the Mare Internum, as we mention before making them call it Mare Nostrum-Our Sea.

Seismic revelation of the urban layers
The area of Pozzouli's Roman age coastline is at a depth of approximately ten meters below the present sea level. Pozzouoli and the surrounding area offer archeologists and seismologists observable, measurable data reflected on the urban and harbor ruins, the vertical up and down movement of approximately 90 m in the past 15,000 years. The ongoing slow subsidence or uplift of the ground has been witnessed as recent as the mid-twentieth century. Particularly striking is the example of Excavation of the monument in mid eighteenth century AD because three marble columns were coming out of the ground. The UNESCO [6] report reiterates the findings that the columns showed up to seven meters above the floor of the monument, typical holes made in rocks by marine life-like mussel shells and algae, testifying the sea submergence for a while before re-emerging.

Foreigners, visitors, trade
The three columns were considered part of Serapeo located not far from the Pozzuoli coast where a statute of the Egyptian, or rather Alexandrian god Serapis was found. More modern archeology argues that it was a market place not a temple. Not to insist on favoring any possible use, the temple may have become a market just as Roman judicial basilicas became or inspired early christen churches. What is important for our paper on Mediterranean cities, is that urbanity brings with it cosmopolitan affinities and affiliations with the presence of travelers, merchant and other types of transients and settlers. According to New Testament, on a way to Rome in 61 A.D. St. Paul landed [7] at Puteoli after nine or ten days sailing from Malta. On that journey the ship stopped at Syracuse in Sicily and than then went to Rhegium, modern Reggio di Calabria. The scripture recounts that upon arrival at Rhenium, the very next day the south wind came up, and on the following day St. Paul with his companion reached Puteoli. The glimpse of this ancient itinerary is significant particularly when we reflect on the earlier regional and trans—Mediterranean urban connections. The Romans proud of their trade connections, referred to Pozzuoli as Delus minor-small Delos, as an island of Delos it was a major sanctuary and merchant port of eastern Mediterranean. The other name Romans referred to Pozzuoli was Litora mundi hospita — Shore that is host to the world [8].

Puteoli /Pozzuoli has well-preserved remains of a gladiatorial stadium, public baths, quay and remains of a number of other temples and amenities a Roman city offered. The connection of the possible Egyptian/Alexandrian temple of Serapis and the constant coming and going of Alexandrian grain ships should not be overlooked. The Pozzouli's exports were based on a high level of local skilled craftsmen, apprentices and specialized workers trained in Phoenician, Anatolian, Egyptian even Scythian traditions. The exports included blown and other glass, terracotta, perfumes, textiles, colors, row and wrought iron, mosaics and marble. One of the most prized and sought out local materials was the volcanic dust called in antiquity Pozzolana the main ingredient for mixing Roman cement and concrete.

Cumae and Pozzuoli offer examples of construction that employ the use of carving out or building up. The Sanctuary of Cumean Sybil was cut from a living rock. Pozzuoli was one of the primary sources of the volcanic sand that was the basis of Roman cement. The history of building materials and techniques presents tangible evidence of physical shaping and cultural characteristics of Urbanity.

Development and refinements of cement and concrete have been one of defining features of Roman civilization. It was based on ability to reconstitute stone by a simple mixture of natural materials that contain alkaline Calcium Hydrate, limestone and acid Silicic Acid, sand with a catalyst of an aluminate. Pozzuoli is famed for the best quality of volcanic dust needed in production of cement. The fusion of wet limestone, sand and volcanic dust is referred to in inorganic chemistry as Pozzolanic Reaction.

The ability to bind small aggregate and modular units of brick or stone into monumental structures has aided the recognizable presence of Roman urbanity across waste territory. Roman concrete is both strong and flexible and can withstand earthquakes and other seismic phenomenon.

An important aspect of Roman cement in buildings is its facing. This sensibility in what meets the eye is a particular expression of urbanity and sophistication. The surface finish was needed to transform and refine the drabness of concrete's appearance. To that end, a variety of surface finishes were created and called by their appearance: regular, mixed or fishnet for example. The fishnet treatment-opus reticulatum was modular, small square blocks of tufa stones arranged diagonally giving the appearance of a fishnet. Also real marble veneer was used as well as frescos and stucco decoration. One of the main ingredients in fresco painting and stucco sculptures and reliefs is quick lime. Quick lime is based on the same chemical property as lime powder used in the Roman building cement. Cultivating quick lime and associated limekilns and lime pits was a widespread practice over thousands of years. This is the material of whitewashed cites, villages and interiors of the Mediterranean.

Lepinski, Sarah in Roman Stuccowork [9] writes:

Following Greek tradition, Roman stuccowork used white lime plaster, which was lightweight and easily worked. This type of plaster was also used in contemporary fresco painting, and its preparation and application is described in detail by ancient authors such as Vitruvius and Pliny the Elder.

Quick lime or burnt lime is a limestone derivative made in a kiln by temperatures around 900°C -- 1,600°F. After heating, the chemically changed stones are put into a purposely built lime pit, mixed with water and left to mature as a creamy alkaline white substance. The disinfectant property of quick lime was discovered early and it is possible that it is as old as pottery, the development of agriculture and rise of permanent built dwellings. The changed characteristic of heated stones may have been discovered by heat transformed fire /cooking pit stones coming in contact with water used in cooking. The whitewash is a symbol and reality of well-maintained home and place where the hearth is. Hence it is practiced even today, but definitely in non-industrial regions until plastic polymer substitutes appeared on the market eliminating the necessity for kilns and lime pits and the medicinal and hygienic property of quick lime. The white wash and the constant availability of quick lime could be considered the rudiment of sophistication and domestication of humans taken to its height in Roman urban stucco works and domestic frescos.

Lepinski, Sarah. In her notes on Roman Stuccowork writes:

Roman stuccowork grew out of Hellenistic practices in the Mediterranean world, which, in turn, combined earlier Greek and Egyptian traditions. The ancient Greeks employed lime plaster in relief on walls to simulate monumental architecture and Egyptians used gypsum stucco for figural reliefs, freestanding sculpture, and other types of objects.

In an old photograph of the prehistoric, troglodyte settlement Sassi di Matera -Stones of Matera that had been inhabited until recently, we see strong presence of quick lime whitewash of different periods.

Matera is in the region of Basilicata, southern Italy and it has bean inhabited since the Paleolithic times. Continuous habitation can be traced at least to eight of nine millenniums ago. Because of the small river that runs through Matera's ravine, the steep hill site above it is a maze of human made, cave-like dwellings that have been carved into the rocks and whitewashed by successive generations. This locality is considered as one of the oldest settlement in the Apennine Peninsula.

Throughout the Mediterranean there are innumerable settlements, communal gathering places, sanctuaries and rituals, practical or defense tunnels dug into the lime rock itself, the same calcium carbonate that when heated produces quick lime and is a base of Roman cement.

Urbanity of Cumae was tied to the presence and influences of a strong Oracle Center with possible deep and mostly obscure roots in pre-classical Mediterranean. The Greek Colonization and Roman Conquest have left rich archeological and written documentary materials. Scholarship since the eighteen century and particularly in the nineteen and early twentieth centuries considers Greco -Roman history as the archaic origin of the urban settlements and culture of the area.

The Cumae section of this paper is partially based on Roy Merle Peterson The Cults Of Campania. It is a dense writing that visits and points to primary written sources, mostly in Latin. The study, as well as being informative about the complex web of cultural influences, also points to the difficulties of translating and interpreting primary sources. This work has been discreetly influential in subsequent writing about Cumae, Pozzuoli and Naples.

It is generally accepted that Cumae was the first Greek colony on the Apennine Peninsula, today Italy. Colonizers from the Greek island of Euboea founded it in the 8th century BC. Euboeans were already established at the island of Ischia — Pithecusae.

Roy Merle Peterson [10] The Cults Of Campania quotes Statius in his Silvae:

... the cult of Apollo, who according to tradition conducted the Greek colonists to their new home in the West, [Statius] refers to this god as one of the old deities of the Chalcidians under whose leadership their fleet found its way to Italy, and in another passage of the same series of poems alludes to the dove that flew ahead of them as the god's representative.

Remembering from our introduction of Holloway's thesis of sanctuaries as binding city-states into allegiances and federations, the view of colonizing began to change. The paradigm of a band of brave urban, literate, culturally advanced explorers reaching lands that where empty, wild and with very few primitive people, also began to change. A model emerged of colonizing as a territorial and ideological quest for hegemony, protection and control of trade routes and access to natural resources. Cumae's physical characteristics of fortress-like cliffs facing the sea with a highly defendable hinterland covered with a dark and foreboding forest of pine and oak made it a remarkable strategic point. This all sounds too modern and simplistic. The profound difference is that the sanctuary connection and understanding of the special significance of an oracular site, has the value of a locality endowed with transcendent connections. People understood early that gods can replace gods and that sanctuaries can be adopted or build on top of each other because the ground is auspicious and secret. The volcanic nature of the Cumaean location and the region is unique, a place where the mother earth and the underworld are near and exuding. This was why Greeks, Romans and latter Christians appropriated and tried to control and curb the influence of Cumean Sybil. Often the temple of Apollo, patron of prophecy, on Cumaean acropolis was presented in history as a cause of Sybil's caves. In our opinion it is the other way around. R. M. Peterson The Cults Of Campania [11] describes the caves:

She gave her prophecies in a cavern, which has been identified with a grotto in the southeastern side of the Acropolis and hence adjacent to the temple on the rock above. This grotto now exhibits the form of a tunnel ascending by a series of steps for a considerable distance, and is connected with a number of passages that honeycomb the cliff. This is doubtless the original of the huge cavern hollowed out of the Euboean rock

The archaic, pre- classical origins of the oracle was acknowledged even in R. M. Peterson's writing mostly about Greco-Roman cults in Campania focused on Cumae, Pozzuoli and Naples because his research reviles classical authors referring to preconditions even in disparaging, patronizing or indifferent ways. R. M. Peterson's comments:

... the prophetess did not at first receive her inspiration from Apollo, but was connected with the worship of a chthonic deity long before the arrival of the great deity of the Greeks. As at Delphi the worship of Apollo was superimposed upon that of an older deity, whose influence gradually faded away, so here, although it did not precisely usurp the ancient seat of prophecy, it succeeded in ousting the other cult and appropriated the priestess along with the mantic functions of the older deity. The Greek cult of the Sibyl as distinguished from the old native oracle was introduced [12] ...

The symbolic, strategic and commercial value of an area with a renowned trans-Mediterranean sanctuary cannot be underestimated. The influx of foreign visitors seeking Sybil's help may not be as numerous as contemporary tourists, but kings and people of means with bad consciences, bereft or needing council were bringing gifts and tributes to the treasury. The primary oracular site in the fortress-like rock was only an introduction to possible in-depth oracle of the dead a mile or so from Cumae. This second stage involved preparation and the journey to and through an underground enactment of Hades and the visiting the shades of the underworld. The Greek colonization appropriated it, Hellenized as Apollo worship. The Romans banned it and made every effort to suppress and destroy it, altering surrounding landscape and developing the area as a spa and place for elegant villas. The Etruscans, Phoenicians-that includes Hannibal and local tribes, fought Greeks and Romans for the hegemony of the Cumae's District but were in the process destroyed, absorbed and Hellenized / Romanized.

Oracle of the dead
Virgil in the Aeneid, Book VI [13], writes that at the Temple at Cumae, Aeneas asks to enter the underworld and was guided to Hades by the Sibyl after she tells him:

'Trojan son of Anchises, sprung from the blood of the gods, the path to hell is easy: black Dis's door is open night and day: but to retrace your steps, and go out to the air above, that is work, that is the task.

R. M. Peterson [14] comments that both Virgil and Strabo make a clear distinction between the site of the Oracle the Antrum at Cumae and the Aornos Cave, where Aeneas and the Sibyl entered the Underworld.

In 1932 at Cumae proper, below the Greek acropolis a more archaic Antrum — cavity, the cave of the Sibyl was located. In the 1950s, two structural engineers interested in ancient technology, Robert Paget and Keith Jones embarked on systematic territory exploration for the Aornos cave radiating from Sibyl's Antrum to the Lake Avernus and beyond. After a long search they finally ended in Baia at the aspect of an archeological site of the Roman Baths that had not yet been excavated. The Italian authorities believed that the passage was unsafe, emanating poisonous gasses. Paget and Jones, with a permit, explored it and found an artificial cave probably fit for an assembly or ceremony with a set of sophisticated carefully conceived and engineered tunnels carved out and embedded into the volcanic rock. The author Robert Temple has been allowed access to this site in the last decade and has written a book, Oracles of the Dead where he dedicate a section to the complex:

The Inner Sanctuary at Baia is oriented toward the sunset of the summer solstice. And the long entrance tunnel is absolutely accurate in its construction, the first 408 feet being oriented toward the point of sunrise of the same day, the summer solstice (which is Midsummer's Day, the longest day in the year) [15].

In this way the site under jurisdiction of ancient Cumae has the characteristics of a number of sites of the pre-classical world. Robert Temple comments on a published report about the sanctuary of the Oracle of the Dead at Baia:

As the engineer Paget says in a masterpiece of understatement: ...There are several engineering problems that call for a little discussion... (They) testify to an engineering skill of a high order. How were the unknown builders of this remarkable underground complex able to construct it with such precise orientations, and with no deviations, 140 feet beneath the earth's surface? The whole complex was quite obviously planned as a single unit [16].

The difficulty of interpreting and reading the intentions of such a complex place and discerning facts from fiction are beyond the scope and expertise of this paper. Our reason for bringing the site into the context of Mediterranean cities is to touch upon architectural elements present in the urbanity of ancient cities set aside for traditional and theophanic practices. The port town of Pozzuoli would have had its temples and places dedicated to other worldliness. While an oracle center like Cumae had practical day-to-day workings, administrative and defense functions all required building and urban arrangements appropriate to the functioning of a city. As the sanctuaries were the binding force of the ancient world, there are some correlations to a number of ancient cities and sites that ask more questions than give answers, but as a part of urban phenomenon are worth reflecting upon.

Hittite Room with Hieroglyphs echos Cumae
F. Cimoc in his book The Hittites describes a complex at the ancient city of Hattiusa [17] has resemblence to both the entrance to the Antrum the Sibyl and programmatically and physically to the Oracle of the Dead:

This chamber is built of limestone blocks assembled to create a parabolic shape. The 'divine earth road' mentioned in the hieroglyphic Luwian text on its wall gives the impression that it was, symbolically, regarded as an entrance leading into the earth or the Underworld and this may be the reason why the chamber's floor slopes down and becomes narrower towards the closed end.

A. Whitaker writes on his Ancient-Wisdom website that at the time of the Hatti civilization, the centre of the known world was Egypt, and most specifically, the capital Iwnw at Giza probably pronounced Lunu, was known in Greco-Roman time as Heliopolis. Hattusa's geographic placements are at significant intervals legible to archeologists and scientists studying these geodetic occurrences. It is interesting to note that all prehistoric temples on Malta face Africa in the southeast direction to Egypt. The fact is that pre-classical science, lore and sensitivities cared and were preoccupied with geodetic issues. Nationalist models of archeological research obscure this underlining matrix of placement of ancient sanctuaries and cities since 19th century. A. Whitaker writes:

Perhaps it is a coincidence that the Capital of the Hatti empire was located at distances of exact units of degrees from the geodetic centre of the world, and perhaps not. We can see that other ancient capitals such as Persepolis, Knossos, Nimrud, Baalbek and Ur were also placed at geometrically significant distances from the Egyptian centre point. [18]

A. Whitaker observed that the site of Hattusa is at 1,200 meters above sea level on top of a barren and wind-swept plateau in central Anatolia with difficult weather conditions that include snow in April. Also A. Whitaker describes that the Hattusa site is characterized by steep rock formations, the elevation between the "lower city” and the "upper city” is in the range of 300 meters. In our opinion this kind of choice of a site potently points to the founders' sensibility to flooding or memory of a great flood and building for an ability to dwell at substantially higher altitude within the same defended territory in case of an emergency.

There is another striking point, the aerial photograph of Hattusa reveals, in a broadest possible sense, a resemblance to the arrangements of Paleolithic temples of Malta rather than classical or purely utilitarian designs. These shared programmatic intentions over large geographic areas also shed a specific light on Cumae. Not in its geometry or spatial organization, but Cumae's acoustic and ritual arrangements resemble Hypogeum in Malta and are somewhat echoed, confirmed by the shape and inscriptions of the Room with Hieroglyphs at Hatiusa. These resemblances point to a significant sanctury connection in pre- classical times and grounds the Greek style of colonization as an offspring and a reaction to more ancient trans Mediteranean paradigms. The following example of subterranean chambers and symbolic circuits may also explain the Roman intentions of supressing, banning and filling with rubble the subterranean corridors of the Oracle of the Dead administerd from and at Cumae, A. Whitaker observes, "... one of the images most commonly associated with Hittites is the sphinx.” At Hattusa, the pair of sphinx not only marks and is part of the main gate's tectonic structure, but also guards the long corridor at the top of the Yerkapi platform. The assent to the platform and unusual long passage entrance are clearly ceremonial, a part of some ambulatory process like the passages at Cumae and Baia. There is a long tradition of associating the Sphinx with underground passages.

C. Kern writes in Inside the Great Sphinx of Giza:

The first references of a subterranean chamber under the Sphinx were discovered on the hieroglyph inscriptions on the inner enclosure wall of the Temple of Horus at Edfu. These inscriptions, known as the Building Texts, refer to various grouped documents, now lost, and called The Sacred Book of Temples. These scriptures, together with other power objects were supposedly placed inside a Hall underneath the Sphinx and sealed off.

C. Kern describes how Ammianus Marcellinus, a Roman historian of the fourth century AD, wrote a treatise on the Egyptians, and illustrated the Initiation associated with the Sphinx. Marcellinus believed there was a secret location between the paws of the monument with a bronze door. C. Kern Quotes R. Bauval [19] about Coptic view of the Sphinx Tradition: In a similar fashion, various Coptic legends speak of subterranean doorways to the Giza monuments and report "there exists a single subterranean chamber under the Sphinx with entrances to all three Pyramids...

C. Kern also states that many of the Arab chroniclers from the ninth century AD onwards agreed that the Great Pyramid was built before the flood as a repository for scientific and symbolic knowledge.

This brief look into pre-classical occurrences, requires more research about viewing them together, is brought here to broaden thinking on the origins and layers of the Mediterranean city phenomena. Within the limits of our own research and disciplinary boundaries of the comparative history of cultures, art and ideas, this gathering of textual and material sources points to the riches of the region's heritage in the broadest possible sense and lore in city placement, design and building.

In closing
Given that our theme is Mediterranean Cities, it may be interesting to briefly look at physical and elusive boundaries of the Middle Sea. The map of the cultural influences of the Sea in a middle of a territory extends beyond and is larger and somewhat differently shaped than the geographic map of the Mediterranean. Even the climatic fact of the cultivation of olive, laurel and lemon trees, broadens the map from the shores of the Middle Sea to neighboring seas and watersheds. The pre-classical Egyptian interest and accurate connection to the sanctuaries of the ancient world, points to a waste territory beyond the Nile. Hercules' labors for the classical period, seen as a map of Mediterranean sphere of influences, may offer another model and a starting point. For example, Prometheus chained and liberated at Caucasus reveals to Hercules the location of the Garden of Hesperides on the Atlantic coast. This larger and layered map offers possibilities for comparative and diachronic insights. For example, L. B. Holland's writing on the mantic mechanism at Delphi may illuminate city of Cumae's oracular function, as background of theo-centric urbanity:

Unlike the worship of the Great Mother at Eleusis, the oracle of Delphi did not contain, to the Greek mind, any mystery. There were no unmentionable elements, no esoteric ritual. Philosophers felt free to discuss and explain it, geographers to describe it. Anyone who had the means might consult it freely, and in person hear the ravings of the sibyl. And yet the exact arrangement of the oracular shrine, the mechanies and its operation, seem almost as vague as those of Demeter's Telesterion [20] .

In the ancient Greek world the oracles from Delphi were tied to the workings of the city-states and permeated daily life. A map of documentary or hypothetical spread of Delphic influence would offer an image of a cultural epicenter in east Mediterranean. Similarly one from Cumae would focus on central Mediterranean. Oracle of Amun at the Oasis of Siwa in western Egypt consulted by Alexander the Great will offer a new picture. If combined these three or more Oracle Sanctuaries' maps will show areas of overlap of shared or contrasting influences. A map of ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean painstakingly compiled over years from available data by nautical archeologist Mathew Harpster, shows an astonishing number of wrecks in the port of Marseille and none in the sand covered seabed at Nile delta. The map may be equally reflective of who finances the sub-aqua research as much as the distribution of ancient causalities. Obviously different maps offer different worldviews. The question for the emergent post-reductionist observation and critique is: What kind of mechanisms of observation and sensitivities are to be developed to understand and evaluate the inner working and the outer manifestation of unfamiliar and diverse values of different people and subgroups? The reflection on the complexity of cities may offer an inclusive, open discourse.

Plato's Republic and the Renaissance city
To return to the diachronic exploration of resonances between classical City-States and the Renaissance that opened this paper, by looking at Pompeian frescos and Piero della Franchesca's view of an ideal city, we shall briefly touch on the influence of Plato's Republic on the The City of the Sun, by Tommaso Campanella written in 1602 AD. Campanella's city of the sun has many references to Plato's Republic written 2000 years before him. Plato's works were re-evaluated and translated from Greek and taught at the newly opened Platonic academy in Florence two centuries before Campanella wrote his influential City of the Sun. Campanella's writing is a philosophical fiction similar to his ancient prototype. Like Plato's is in the form of a dialog, Campanella's discourse was written as conversation between Templar's Grand Master and Genovese Captain. In Plato's dialog or symposium, protagonist Socrates addresses the issues of City/State through the Republic's central question: “is it always better to be just than unjust” by broadening concern to society and the creation of an ideal city. Socrates argues the plausibility and correlation between a just city and a just human is good and possible. To conger an image of a desirable city, Socrates does not rely on known or ancient cities; he creates a model of a new city. In the Republic Socrates describes and creates a multi layered urban paradigm, beginning with the primary causes that would bring a fresh look into the nature of cities. Socrates intentionally creates a utopian, ideal city as a device to examine existing cities, their organization and individuals in them. To bridge the actual and ideal, Socrates also hints that in the right circumstances his model could become real.

Both Campanella and Socrates were dissident thinkers of their time. Socrates was executed for his ideas. Campanella created his utopian critique in captivity where he served a life sentence for disobedience, subversive activity and heresy. Correlation, direct influences, reactions to ancient prototype and fresh relevant thinking for his time are abundant and worth perusing at some other stage. Part of urbanity is independent and freethinking, the plurality of the city offers opportunity for the like-minded to meet and develop ideas. For our paper we bring Republic's salient ideas as generated originally from and for Mediterranean cities as points of reference and context for more universal and meta-issues.

Urbanity meta-issues In writing about cities and Mediterranean cities in the closing paragraphs, we want to appraise the cultural phenomenon of identifying with a defined territory, and the human, sapient need for community. Contemporary Social/Community Psychology confirms the age-old process of identifying with a defined territory as one of the major basis for self-definition [21].

Psychologist J. R. Gusfield [22] articulated in 1975 two dimensions of community: territorial and relational. He pinpointed and helped share what human beings know in the depth of their being, that proximity or shared territory cannot by itself constitute a community; the relational dimension is also essential. In Plato's dialogs we see all aspects of relationship of an individual to the City and the degrees of relatedness of different subgroups and individuals.

Similarly Riger and Lavrakas name two distinct atavistic factors in urban identity "social bonding" and "physical rootedness". Even in the legal terms, domicile is articulated as given connection to a jurisdiction. The law recognizes distinct relationship to the place where the home, domus is. On legal documents or forms it is distinct from the place of birth.

Urban settings demonstrate collective rituals as social commitment and belonging. The periodic Pan- Athenian festivals or annual theater competitions of Plato's city are examples out of many. From Plato's dialogs set in a context of an urban dinner party, we glean everyday ritualized behavior, like greeting or hospitality, such protocols are present in some form in every culture.

An important aspect of Urbanity and particularly of Mediterranean cities is their richness in regard to well-conceived public spaces that allow and cultivate personal sensibilities. The choice of sites, placement and handsomeness of municipal buildings, the existence of libraries and city gardens allows the territorial identification to be internalized and as a result, deepen discernment and taste. Dwelling in the city offers a context for a relationship to the internal processes. Ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence or Ottoman Istanbul took great care of this aspect of urbanity for personal symbolizing which living together brings.

[1] A. Milia & co-authors, Volcanism in the Campania Plain, Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei and Ignimbrites, (Napoli: De Vivo, 2006)–summarized content

[2] M. Bieber, The History of the Greek and Roman Theater, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), p. 137 & 164

[3] J. W. Rich and A, Wallace-Hadrill, City and Country in the Ancient World (Oxford: Routlrge, 1991), p. 248

[4] M. Wheeler, Roman Art and Architecture, ( London: Thames and Hudson,1985), p. 26

[5] N. Rodgers, Ancient Rome, (London, Hermes House -Annes Publishing Ltd. 2007), p. 162

[6] UNESCO -the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage– accessed July 2012

[7] NET Bible -Acts 28:13 accessed July 2012

[8] R. M. Peterson, The Cults of Campania, (Rome: Papers And Monographs of The American Academy In Rome, Volume I, (Rome: Di Luigi Alfieri & CO, I919–Lexington: Forgotten Books 2012 -Reprint), p.103

[9] S. Lepinski, "Roman Stuccowork" Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 (March 2012), p.1

[10] R. M. Peterson, The Cults Of Campania, p. 50

[11] R. M. Peterson, The Cults Of Campania, p. 45

[12] R. M. Peterson, The Cults Of Campania, p. 55–56

[13] Virgil, The Aeneid, Book VI, Translated by A. S. Kline, 2002 Accessed January 2013

[14] R. M. Peterson, The Cults Of Campania, p. 76

[15] R. Temple, Oracles of the Dead, (Rochester: Destiny Books, 2005) p.30

[16] R. Temple, Oracles of the Dead, p.31

[17] F. Cimok, The Hittites, (Istanbul: A Turizm Yayinlari, 2010), p.87

[18] A.Whitaker, Ancient-Wisdom website, accessed January 2013

[19] R. Bauval, G, Hancock, The Message of the Sphinx, (Toronto: Doubleday Canada Ltd.1996), p.80

[20] L. B. Holland, The Mantic Mechanism at Delphi, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Apr. -Jun., 1933), Archaeological Institute of America, p. 201-214

[21] D.W. McMillan, & D.M. Chavis, Sense of community: A definition and theory. (Journal of Community Psychology, 14(1) (1986), p. 6-23

[22] J. R. Gusfield, The community: A critical response, (New York: Harper Colophon, 1975), p.29

[23] S. Riger, & P. Lavrakas, Community ties patterns of attachment and social interaction in urban neighborhoods. American Journal of Community Psychology, 9, (1981) p. 55-66


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Holland L. B., The Mantic Mechanism at Delphi, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Apr. -Jun., 1933)

McMillan, D.W., & Chavis, D.M. Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community Psychology (1986)

Milia A. & co-authors, Volcanism in the Campania Plain, Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei and Ignimbrites, Napoli: De Vivo, 2006

Rich J. W. and Wallace-Hadrill A., City and Country in the Ancient World, Oxford: Routlage, 1991

Riger, S. & Lavrakas, P. Community ties patterns of attachment and social interaction in urban neighborhoods, American Journal of Community Psychology, 9, (1981)

Rodgers N, Ancient Rome, London: Hermes House -Annes Publishing Ltd, 2007

Peterson R. M., The Cults of Campania, Rome: Papers And Monographs of The American Academy In Rome, Volume I, Rome: Di Luigi Alfieri & CO, I919–Reprint -Lexington: Forgotten Books 2012

Temple R., Oracles of the Dead, Rochester: Destiny Books, 2005

Wheeler M., Roman Art and Architecture, London: Thames and Hudson, 1985

Websites Consulted website accessed 15 august 2012

Lepinski S., Roman Stuccowork, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (March 2012) accessed August 2012

NET Bible -Acts 28:13 accessed July 2012

UNESCO -the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage– accessed July 2012

Virgil, The Aeneid Book VI, Translated by A. S. Kline, 2002 accessed January 2013

Whitaker A., Ancient-Wisdom website accessed January 2013