New Pompeii furnishings highlight middle-class homes before Mt. Vesuvius eruption

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New Pompeii furnishings highlight middle-class homes before Mt. Vesuvius eruption

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Archeologists have discovered four new rooms in a house in Pompeii filled with household objects giving a rare glimpse into the final moments of life in middle-class homes before Mount Vesuvius’ furious eruption.

Pompeii’s archeological park, one of Italy’s top tourist attractions, announced the recent finds on Saturday. Its director, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, said the excavation of rooms in a “domus,” or home, first unearthed in 2018 had revealed precious details about the domestic environment of ordinary citizens of the city.

Archeologists found four rooms in a home in the Pompeii ruins.

Archeologists found four rooms in a home in the Pompeii ruins.
(Parco Archeologico di Pompei via AP)

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The finds revealed the final moments of life captured by furnishing shattered by the eruption in AD 79 and objected hastily abandoned during the deadly disaster. 

Plates, vases, amphorae, glass and terracotta objects left in chests and cabinets, hastily abandoned during the disaster.

The home found was dubbed the House of the Larario for an area of a home devoted to domestic spirits known as lares. 

“A large slice of the population in the Roman Empire were people who sweated for their daily bread but were also anxious to raise their social status,” Zuchtriegel said.

In past decades, excavation largely concentrated on sumptuous, elaborately frescoed villas of the Pompeii’s upper-class residents. But archeology activity in the sprawling site, near modern-day Naples, has increasingly focused on the lives of the middle class as well as of servants and other enslaved people.

Zuchtriegel noted that while the courtyard also had an exceptionally well-adorned cistern, “evidently, the (financial) resources weren’t enough to decorate the five rooms of the home.” One room had unpainted walls and an earthen floor apparently used for storage.

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In a bedroom, archeologists found the remains of a bed frame with a trace of fabric from the pillow. The kind of bed is identical to three, cot-like beds unearthed last year in a tiny room in another residence that archaeologists believe doubled as a storeroom and sleeping quarters for a family of enslaved inhabitants of Pompeii.

The bedroom findings announced Saturday also included the remains of a wooden trunk with an open lid. Although the weight of beams and ceiling panels that crashed down in the wake of the volcanic explosion heavily damaged the trunk, among the objects found inside was an oil lamp decorated with a bas-relief depicting the ancient Greek deity Zeus being transformed into an eagle. Nearby was a small, three-legged round table, similar to the accent tables in vogue today.

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Exposing the storeroom revealed a wooden closet, its backboard still intact, but the shelves caved in. Archeologists believe the closet had at least four panel doors and held cookware and dishes for the nearby kitchen. The excavators found a hinge from the enclosure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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