Underground Greek tomb discovered in Italy by using cosmic rays - study

The subterranean burial that was found is approximately 2,500 years old, but researchers hadn't been able prior to access all the Greek burials.

 Illustrative image of an underground tomb. (photo credit: PXFUEL)
Illustrative image of an underground tomb.
(photo credit: PXFUEL)

An ancient Greek settlement dating back 2,500 years was discovered beneath Naples, Italy by using cosmic rays and lasers, according to a recent study.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports last month, states that catacombs of Christians who lived there during the Roman era were also discovered. The discovery was specifically located in the “Sanità” district near the center of the city.

The study noted that the researchers that participated had prior knowledge of the Greek burials but weren't able to access them until cosmic rays enabled them to peer into the historical sites without digging. It also goes through the researchers' process in detailing their use of muography to detect underground voids that were unknown to archaeologists.

What is a muon?

A muon is a subatomic particle with greater mass than an electron and their tracks were recorded using nuclear emulsion technology, and muons are produced by the cosmic rays in Earth's atmosphere.

Researchers used detectors that were capable of detecting muons, which are "high energy charged particles produced by cosmic rays" and were installed underground at a depth of 18 meters. This was done in order to measure over several weeks of muon flux.

Moon and Earth’s Atmosphere (credit: NASA)Moon and Earth’s Atmosphere (credit: NASA)

The sites most likely date back to when the city of Naples was originally called "Cumae," the study states. It also went by the name Neapolis (New City).

This wasn't the only groundbreaking archaeological discovery in Naples last month, as a report from last week stated that remains of an ancient temple submerged in the western Mediterranean off the coast of Naples was found by researchers from two universities based in the Italian city. The Nabatean temple was dedicated to the god Dushara and is believed to date back to a time when Nabataean people lived in the Phlegrean Peninsula.