Archaeologists could not hide their excitement and astonishment when they entered the cave. It looked like any other cave, but what the cave held was not ordinary in any respect. Ed and Haley sensed something off about the cave the moment they entered it, and after closer inspection, they even figured out what it was. The cave was holding some sinister secrets associated with the dark secrets of the humane people.
The Greek Empire was one of the most indomitable empires in the past. Greeks had spread their empire to the Italian Mediterranean coast by building colonies there. They had made many colonies, but among them, the one they liked the most was Cumae, an oceanside spot. It was the very place where they built their home away from their original home. Cumae proved to be heaven for people fleeing Euboea, a Greek island. The region turned out to be a perfect place for them.
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The importance of Cumae does not end here. Did you know that it was because of the prospering colonists of Cumae that the Latin alphabet originated? Early European letters were their source of inspiration. Cumae was quite developed in comparison to its neighboring states, and the colony’s beautiful location was enough to attract the envy of foes. Romans ousted Greeks around 338 BC and included the city in their empire. Though the pace was slow, the Greek empire was surely collapsing bit by bit. The Greek culture had begun to wither away and soon got replaced by Roman customs.
Cumae now had become a center of attraction for the Roman elite. The city and its shores began to get visited by the rich and high-rankers of the Roman Empire. It prospered peacefully under the wing of the Roman Empire, but the same can’t be said about the time post 1207. 1207 changed everything for one of the most beautiful and rich cities of the Roman Empire, Cumae.
The strongest city collapsed into ruins and rubble. Despite the fact that the city had no existence now, it still remained in the mind of archaeologists. The city ruled their minds until the archaeologists learned about Herculaneum and Pompeii, cities destroyed by volcanoes. The whole attraction had gotten diverted to those two cities. Soon enough, researchers abandoned the city, and the town became subject to looting.
The city remained desolated until the 20th century when some researchers showed their interest in exploring the place once again for its hidden treasure. One thing leads to another, explorers made a significant discovery in 1932. They stumbled upon a unique trapezoidal cave. The rumor has it that the cave is the very place where a renowned sorceress made future predictions. The name of the prophetess was Kumayan Sybil. She was not like any other fortune teller. The woman was widely known for her clairvoyance. Michelangelo has included her among the four prophetesses that he painted at the Sistine Chapel; he showed her the largest among them.
Jean-Pierre Brune and Priscilla Musée Collège differences of French National Center for Scientific Research started the task of digging necropolis inside the very city. Shortly after, the crew discovered what they had been looking for. From the day research began, they had excavated very little when about hundreds of tombs began to surface. All of them were well chiseled into the stony earth.
There was no clue about the owner of the crypts; the thieves had destroyed all the clues while plundering the place. However, the team managed to discover remnants of human and funerary evidence. They examined the tombs and learned that it was built back in the second century BC, after the Romans won over the Greek colony.
The wall of tombs was painted with red and white; they were all painted with the same color. At least this is what they thought until they saw one more chamber. This particular chamber was embellished with ornate paintings. The painting was mural in nature; it was difficult to believe that the painting was made many centuries ago as they still contain their charm even after deteriorating so badly.
The researchers could not help but admire it. After dedicating more time and concentration to the painting, they realized that it was of a naked servant. The subject had a vase and a silver drinking vessel in his hand. There were many more primitive containers such as a scitula and a crater sitting beside the naked servant on the wall.
After observing many components of the painting, they concluded that the mural was depicting a banquet. They further concluded that other people, especially guests of the soiree, had graced the walls with their creativity, which had eroded over time. The craftsmanship and different colors are taken in use for the tribute alluded towards the fact that the crypt was one of the members of the Roman elite. According to the custom of Romans, a tomb usually fits three individuals.
There were about three beds in the room. What made them sure about their conclusion was the fact that the paintings had a touch of adult content in it, and in those times, Roman’s elite class enjoyed risqué artwork, as nudity was not that big taboo in those times.
What struck all the archaeologists was the fact that the banquet had gone out of trend a number of times before this mural was painted on the inside wall of the tomb. In order to go ahead with their research, they carefully tore the painting off the walls.
Cumae has disappeared into the dark for hundreds of years. For the archaeologists, they had shifted all their focus on cities that witnessed distortion because of Vesuvius. They had gotten so fascinated by these cities that they turned a blind eye to all these discoveries. Few members of Subterranea Britannica made a groundbreaking discovery while exploring the region. The place in question is about a few thousand miles from Cumae.
The society was exploring man-made caves. Another amazing discovery was made during an outing. The group that came from the UK had two below-ground buffs, the buffs, namely Hayley Clark and Ed Waters, possessed great knowledge of ancient history. They also had an eye for imperceptible details that often go neglected. The duo, also known as Sub-Brits, headed to the British Midlands. They paced towards Creswell Crags; it is a gorge made of limestone entailing a slew of primitive caves. The region has been desolate for ten thousand years. They had taken only a few steps into the cave famously called Robin Hood Cave when the duo sensed something strange. They stopped dead in their track. Both of them ran towards the rocky walls and brushed its cool surface with their hand. They could sense it; they had made an unexpected discovery.
There were many carvings and scratches inflicted upon the interior made of limestone. Not to mention, the scratches and carvings were thousands of years old. The markings were easy to locate. They would have meant nothing for an untrained person. Many facility workers and locals had visited the place, but none of them ever gave any heed to those markings; according to them, these were meaningless scribbling done during the Victorian period. These markings had been seen by many people who dismissed it as meaningless, but in reality, these markings did have a meaning.
They were not on the wall without any reason. Haley and Ed finally had figured it out. There were about hundreds of individual letters carved on the cover. Along with all those characters, there were two letters that stood out for the duo. It was VV. Haley and Ed did not take long to unravel the mystery of these letters; they were sure that the letters were used to represent an important phrase.
According to them, VV meant “Virgin of Virgins.” It is a prayer recited to persuade Mary of Nazareth to protect people from evil power. That was not the only carving that was etched with VV; there were many others too. Each and every carver the researcher got their hands on had these annotations on it.
Ed and Haley excitedly showed their discovery to the tour group heritage facilitator John Charlesworth, who happened to be their guide. He had never felt so astonished before. The man immediately informed Cresswell Heritage Trust and invited experts to take a look and inspect the symbols. The team of experts sprung into action at once and began searching caves, each and every part.
They crouched down to the lowest part of the cave, lifted themselves up to the roof of the cave so that no detail could be missed. They found many inscriptions; experts found maze patterns, boxes, and crosses repeatedly, just like VV. There was no doubt that these markings and messages had a big role in tricking and trapping evil forces.
The mystery of these markings and signs was finally solved, but there was one more thing that baffled researchers; there was a giant red flag too. These depictions clearly conveyed the fear of the settlers. The big question was, what were they fearful of? It seemed that a dark force had made them desperate enough to resort to carving symbols on walls for help from the almighty.
It was important to identify the person who actually made those carvings to figure out why they were made. A PhD in archaeology at the University of Lake Hester, Allison Fern, is positive that these apotropaic signs were made on places of worship or on the door frames of one’s house. One point to note here is that no one would have spent days carving marks on the stone in that time when it would have been a gradual and meticulous task. It was obvious that the task was triggered by fear.
The other apotropaic markings, such as witch marks, were clearly there. The historians from Cresswell Heritage came along with Historic England and together concluded that the signs were carved sometime between the 14th and 18th centuries. They believe that the carvings were etched by people residing in Creswell. The number of markings is clearly demonstrating that something really scary was going on in the lives of residents of the city.
There has always been a connection between humans and supernaturals. We all have heard stories about supernatural beings. It could be that a life-taking plague had broken in the village, or perhaps they were facing poverty leading to death. Perhaps they imputed blame for all this on a witch, and that is why they took to this cave to perform a ritual that they believed would save them from dark forces responsible for their despair.
The markings were unique and scary to some extent; the tour group felt a chill down their spine when they learned about the possibilities. Paul Baker, director of Cresswell Crags Museum and Heritage Center, stated, “To know that possibly the person that commissioned the King James Bible is buried here is the most incredible discovery.” He further asserted, “It greatly adds to the texture of this project.”
The crypt had not revealed all of its mysteries yet. Christopher explained, “We still don’t know who else is down there.”
They are yet to identify all of those 30 coffins. Perhaps the history of the church could help historians to identify the coffins. A detailed study of all the earlier archbishops and their personal life can help. This church had two lives, Christopher described. It was the parish church of Lambeth, but it was also a kind of annex to Lambeth Palace itself. Over the centuries, a significant number of archbishops chose to worship and be buried there.
The discovery was an unexpected one. Many archaeologists had visited the premises, and none of them ever could find anything. “Every archaeologist in London has looked into this building,” Christopher explained excitedly.
But nobody told us to expect us to find anything. Christopher, as of now, has not thought about removing the coffins. He and the Garden Museum decided to let the coffins rest where they were resting all these years. But that does not mean that they are inaccessible to the public. The public can take a look at them after the £7.5 million pound redevelopment project that took 18 months to complete in 2017.