In 2016, scientists conducted research to determine the origin of white marble, which is used en masse to cover Roman buildings.
Roman emperors usually spent their summers in the city of Baje, near Naples. Most of the city’s luxury villas, however, were underwater. Baje was an important “thermal city” that had existed from the 1st century BCE until the 3rd century CE Emperor Augustus and Nero also rested there. With time, however, the buildings and the city were gradually flooded as a result of the sinking of the coastal zone.
Researchers from the University of Calabria decided to confirm whether the marble used to cover the building came from Carrara and other quarries in Turkey and Greece. For this purpose, scientists took fifty samples of white stone from under the water and analyzed them in the laboratory. For this purpose, among others, a polarizing microscope, X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy were used.
The scientists then compared the samples with the most famous white marbles used during the Roman period in the Mediterranean area. The data showed that material from quarries in Carrara, Italy, was used to build the villa in Baja; Proconnesos, Docimium and Aphrodisias in Turkey; and Thassos, Paros in Pentelicon, Greece. Only the origin of the five samples is still unknown.