Tourists will see 'maniacal Roman perfection and incredible hydraulic technology' in labyrinth under Rome's Caracalla baths
The temple to Mithras under the Caracalla baths. Initiates to the cult would line in a niche and be drenched in the blood of sacrificed bulls. Photograph: Chris Warde-Jones
In the middle of a patch of grass amid the ruins of the Caracalla baths in Rome, there is a staircase that takes visitors deep into the ground to a world resembling the lair of a James Bond villain.
"This is our glimpse at maniacal Roman perfection, at incredible hydraulic technology," said archaeologist Marina Piranomonte, as she descended and waved at a network of high and wide tunnels, each measuring six metres (20ft) high and wide, snaking off into the darkness.
The baths, on a sprawling site slightly off the beaten track in a city crowded by monumental attractions, hold their own against the nearby Circus Maximus, its shattered walls standing 37 metres high, recalling its second century heyday when it pulled in 5,000 bathers a day.
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