ROME (AP) — A body with its lid open. A wooden cupboard with shelves is built in. Three-legged accent tables with decorative bowls on top. These latest discoveries by archaeologists add to the knowledge of middle-class life in Pompeii before a furious eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the ancient Roman city under volcanic debris.
The archaeological park of Pompeii, one of Italy’s main tourist attractions, announced the latest findings on Saturday. Its director, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, said the excavation of the “domus,” or rooms in the house, first unearthed in 2018, has revealed valuable details about the domestic environment of ordinary citizens of the city, which was destroyed in 79 AD.
In recent decades, excavations have focused mainly on the luxurious, elaborately frescoed villas of Pompeii’s high-ranking residents. But in a large area near modern Naples, archaeological activity increasingly focuses on the lives of the middle class, as well as servants and other slaves.
“There was a fairly large part of the population in the Roman empire who struggled with their social status and were given nothing more than their ‘daily bread,'” Zuchtriegel said. “In times of political crises and food shortages, the vulnerable class is also ambitious to climb the social ladder.”
Among the finds discovered on Saturday were furniture and household items in the domus, called the House of Larario, for a man’s area dedicated to household spirits known as lares. A man found in 2018 has one in his backyard.
Zuchtriegel noted that although there was an exceptionally well-decorated cistern in the courtyard, “obviously the (financial) resources were not sufficient to decorate the five rooms of the house.” One room had unpainted walls and a dirt floor used for storage. .
In the bedroom, archaeologists found the remains of a bed frame with fabric traces from the pillow. The bed, archaeologists believe, is identical to a three-bed-like bed discovered last year in a small room in another residence that served as a double storeroom and bedroom for a family of enslaved residents at Pompeii.
The bedroom finds, released on Saturday, also included the remains of a wooden trunk with an open lid. Although the body was severely damaged by the weight of beams and ceiling panels that fell from the volcanic eruption, among the items found inside was an oil lamp decorated with a bas-relief depicting the ancient Greek god Zeus transforming into an eagle. Nearby was a small, three-legged round table similar to the accent tables that are in vogue today.
Uncovering the storage revealed a wooden cabinet with the back panel still intact but the shelves caved in. Archaeologists believe the cupboard had at least four paneled doors and nearby were pots and pans for the kitchen. Excavators found a hinge from the casing.
Other items found in the house include a large piece of clear, framed plate in brilliant shades of cobalt blue and emerald, and a well-preserved cradle-shaped incense burner.