Artificial Cavities

Artificial cavities as a heritage

Man is instinctively drawn to the observation and exploration of structures from the past. From this he acquires knowledge. On a utilitarian front, he puts such structures to use by living in them or restoring them. In mediaeval times and during the Renaissance period, man restores and reactivates certain Roman aqueducts. In modern times, he ensures the operation of ancient sewers and canals. Tombs and rock dwelling become stables, warehouses and garages. Abandoned mines are located and brought back into operation or revitalized as tourist attractions and the surface ecosystem is often re-established. Everything comes full circle. Many cave places of worship are still in use today. The advent of the modern era and the advent of archaeology have on the one hand led to structures being abandoned or destroyed while on the other hand, structures are actively sought out and protected. These brief and succinct examples explain how artificial cavities can be restored and researched for different and often divergent purposes.

Artificial cavities and speleology

The application of speleological and underwater speleology methodologies means that a wider range of artificial cavities can be explored. The adoption of modern single-cord descent and scaling techniques, physical and mental training, the use of underwater speleology equipment as well as an understanding of the risks and adequate compliance to safety regulations have undoubtedly opened new horizons. This has led to the discovery and exploration of a considerable number of previously unknown or simply overlooked underground structures.

Underground studies of both natural and artificial cavities were commenced many years ago; however only in the XIX century did speleological exploration take its first decisive steps. The introduction of the speleological discipline has also greatly benefited artificial cavity research. However, the creation of a true investigation methodology has been undoubtedly far slower and far more difficult. There may be several reasons for this, however one thing is certain: maturation required its own time.

Artificial cavities and classification

The study of artificial cavities has resulted in the identification of a certain number of typologies and sub-typologies. Some sub-typologies may in turn present underground characteristics, which shall only be mentioned within this book and not individually covered, except in exceptional cases. The continuation of works and the development of the discipline shall hopefully lead to the broadening and integration of this list, which is intended as a simple yet solid starting point.

1. EXTRACTION WORKS

quarry, mine

2. HYDRAULIC WORKS

2 a. WATER SUPPLY AND TRANSPORT

aqueduct, artificial underground canal, artificial vaulted canal, drainage channel, natural vaulted water course, underground effluent, filtering gallery, connecting shaft

2 b. VERTICAL PERFORATIONS

artesian shaft, graduated shaft, ordinary shaft, ordinary radial shaft

2 c. STORAGE

cistern, icehouse, snowstore

2 d. WASTE DISPOSAL

septic pit, sewer, clarification (or biological) well, drainage well, cesspit, sump

3. RELIGIOUS STRUCTURES

crypt, rock hermitage, underground hermitage, favissa, rocky place of worship, underground place of worship, mithraeum, holy well

4. FUNERARY STRUCTURES

catacomb, cemetery, columbarium, domus de janas, foiba, morgue, necropolis, ossuary, tomb

5. STRUCTURES FOR CIVIL USE

rocky dwelling, underground dwelling, rock apiary, butto (waste disposal pit), cellar, camera dello scirocco (sirocco chamber), columbarium, crypt, cryptoportico, underground oil mill, mushroom cultivation rooms, railway tunnel, pedestrian tunnel, road tunnel, granary pit, artificial cave, rock settlement, underground settlement, warehouse, nymphaeum, underground wine-making plant, gunpowder magazine, vault, road in cutting

6. MILITARY STRUCTURES

bastion, battery, castle, caponier, casemate, pillbox, countermine, demolition tunnel, cupola, fort, tunnel, counterscarp tunnel, demolition gallery, road tunnel, war cave, fortified cave, mine, cave structure, gunpowder magazine, postem, redoubt, reduit, shelter, artillery magazine, ravelin, vault, defensive tambour, traditore, trench

7. UNIDENTIFIED STRUCTURES

structures, the function of which is unknown.