Sunken Roman city ruins finally get an internet connection

The southern Italian city of Baiae was once a magnificent metropolis on pair with Pompeii. It eventually stopped being a hedonistic vacation town for various Caesars and Julii, and endured a few centuries of gradual below before it finally sunk below sea level, taking all of its glorious history with it.

But now it has something else to offer, in addition to all those buried treasures: internet access! Not for tourists, but rather, archaeologists. From Technology Review:

Today, Baiae is one of the world's few underwater archaeological parks, and its 435 acres are open to visitors wanting to explore the remains of the ancient Roman city. A protected marine area, the site needs to be monitored for damage caused by divers and environmental factors. However, explains Barbara Davidde, Italy's national superintendent for underwater cultural heritage, "communication underwater is challenging."


Scientists have tried optic and acoustic waves, but light and sound aren't efficient forms of wireless underwater communication—water temperature, salinity, waves, and noise can alter signals as they travel between devices.

So Davidde teamed up with a group of engineers led by Chiara Petrioli, a professor at Sapienza University and director of Sapienza's spinoff WSense, a startup specializing in underwater monitoring and communication systems. Petrioli's team has developed a network of acoustic modems and underwater wireless sensors capable of gathering environmental data and transmitting it to land in real time. "We can now monitor the site remotely and at any time," says Davidde.

It sounds like a pretty fascinating technological challenge. Namor must be excited.

AI is bringing the internet to submerged Roman ruins [Manuela Callari / MIT Technology Review]