Not far from the Duomo (Naples Cathedral) on Vico Carminiello there is the Carminiello ai Mannesi Archaeological Complex, an archaeological site that dates to the 1st century BC. The oldest known remains on the site are from a domus, the house of an unknown person. At the beginning of the 1st century AD, a thermal complex was built on top of this structure. The two level complex is in opus reticulatum (reticulated brick work) and laterizio (Roman brick work). The lower level presumably housed the complex’s services (cistern, storage, etc.) while the upper level housed the thermal rooms themselves. During the 2nd century AD, two rooms on the lower floor were transformed into a Mithraeum following the spread of the Persian cult of Mithras. The complex was abandoned in the early 5th century after an apparent earthquake and the structure began a long period of decay.

In the 17th century, the Church of Carmine ai Mannesi was built on the site of the thermal complex. A bomb that destroyed the church in 1943 brought to light the buildings below, but unfortunately these buildings were completely abandoned for many years. In 1973 the area was cleaned up, fenced in and excavations were undertaken that revealed the importance of the complex. During the 1980s however, the area became an illegal parking lot and was also used as the stable of an underworld family. It was only in 1993 that the Magistrate seized the area and evacuated it.

The remains of the complex include several rooms that functioned as the thermal plant and a large rectangular room with a mosaic floor and frescoed walls belonging to a building that predated the thermal complex, presumably the domus. There are also the two rooms which are presumed to have been used as the Mithraeum, based on the presence of a white stucco relief that would have originally been painted, and that represents the god Mithras in the act of sacrificing a bull. On the top floor are the remains of two baths, the first with a central fountain and steps which would have been covered in marble (re-used as an infant burial in the Middle Ages) and the second faced in opus signinum.

Translated from “Complesso Archeologico di Carminiello ai Mannesi”, courtesy of Gruppo Archeologico Napoletano