Caligula (AD 12 - 41) is remembered as one of the most tyrannical Emperors of Ancient Rome, but researchers hope to shed a new light his rule by finding remains of one of his mythical 'party boats'. According to the legend, wild orgies were thrown by Caligula on these enormous vessels.
Equipped with modern scanners, a team of divers is about to explore the muddy depths of the lake of Nemi, near the city of the same name (south of Rome).
In the late 1920s two of Emperor Caligula's boats had already been found there, when Italy's dictator Benito Mussolini ordered the level of the lake to be lowered.
Measuring between 230 and 240 feet long (70-73 metres), these two ships were among the largest in the ancient world. They were later lost in a fire in 1944, during the second world war.
The team now hopes to find the remains of a third one, previously undiscovered because it may lie hidden much deeper under water. They believe it might be even larger than the two other ships – and very luxurious.
"Every emperor had a villa, but Caligula demanded floating villas complete with columns, hot water, gold and mosaics" Nemi's mayor Alberto Bertucci told The Times.
The divers will be using a sonar to search the waters for lost artefacts combined with a scanner based on ground-penetrating sound waves to find out if anything is buried in the mud. Uncovering anything without the help of these technologies will be difficult as the mud means visibility for the divers is very low.
The exploration of the lake is expected to last 10 days.