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Peter Bardwell | profile | all galleries >> Other Italian places >> Campania >> Pozzuoli and the Fields of Fire >> Cuma - ancient Cumae tree view | thumbnails | slideshow | map

In and around Pozzuoli | Pozzuoli - the amphitheatre | Pozzuoli - the solfatara | Transport to sites in Pozzuoli | Baia - Roman baths and a castle | Cuma - ancient Cumae | A few other places

Cuma - ancient Cumae

Ancient Cumae - today know as Cuma - was founded in the 8th century BC, on
the site of an Iron Age village, as the first of many colonies of Magna Graecia
on the Italian mainland.

An offshoot of their trading station, Pithekoussai - on the island of Ischia,
the creation of Greeks from the cities of Chalcis and the hononymous Cumae
(known also as Kyme and, today, Kymi) on the island of Euboea (today, Evia)
- the city thrived until it was overrun by Oscans in 421 BC, eventually
succumbing to the Roman conquest of Campania some eighty years later.

One of the two cities of Cumae gave its name to the Cumae alphabet, a
script that developed into the modern Latin alphabet.

But Cuma is more famous for having been the seat of the Cumean Sibyl -
an ageless priestess who presided over the Apollonian oracle. Of many
seers, the one at Cuma was paramount to the ancient Romans, to whom she
was known as simply "The Sibyl".

In 1932 her cave was rediscovered and identified from a description in
Virgil's Aeneid. It lies at the end of a trapeziodal passage some 130
metres long, in the volcanic tufa of the hillside that climbs above the
city to the acropolis where the ruin of the temple of Apollo can still be seen.