New Pompeii Finds Highlight Middle-Class Life in the Doomed City

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A trunk with the lid open. A wooden crockery cabinet, with sunken shelves. Decorative three-legged tables topped by decorative bowls. These latest discoveries by archaeologists are enriching knowledge about middle-class life in Pompeii before the furious eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the ancient Roman city in volcanic debris.

The Pompeii archaeological 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 discovered in 2018, had revealed precious details about the domestic environment of ordinary citizens of the city, which was destroyed in 79 AD.

In past decades, excavation largely concentrated on sumptuous villas with elaborate frescoes from the Upper class residents of Pompeii. But archaeological activity at the sprawling site, near present-day Naples, has increasingly focused on the middle class lives as well as servants and other enslaved people.

middle class lives in Pompeii, life in Pompeii, Pompeii excavation, Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption in Pompeii, Pompeii news, Indian Express news In this image provided by the Pompeii Archaeological Site Press Office, archaeologists work at the site of a new discovery. The director of the archaeological site, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, said that excavations of rooms in a house first discovered in 2018 revealed the environment of ordinary citizens of the city. (Pompeii Archaeological Park via AP)

“In the Roman empire, there was a large part of the population who struggled with their social status and for whom ‘daily bread’ was anything but a given,” Zuchtriegel said. “A vulnerable class during political crises and food shortages, but also ambitious to climb the social ladder.”

Finds revealed Saturday include furniture and household items in the domus, which was nicknamed the Casa del Larario after an area of ​​a house dedicated to domestic spirits known as lares. The house unearthed in 2018 has one in the yard.

middle class lives in Pompeii, life in Pompeii, Pompeii excavation, Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption in Pompeii, Pompeii news, Indian Express news


An image provided by the Pompeii Archaeological Site Press Office showing a discovery. (Pompeii Archaeological Park via AP)

Zuchtriegel noted that while the courtyard also had an exceptionally well-adorned cistern, “the (financial) resources were obviously not sufficient to decorate the five rooms of the house.” One room had bare walls and a dirt floor that was apparently used for storage.

In one bedroom, archaeologists found the remains of a bed frame with a trace of pillow fabric. The type of bed is identical to three cot-like beds unearthed last year in a small room in another residence that archaeologists believe doubled as a storeroom and bedroom for a family of enslaved Pompeians.

middle class lives in Pompeii, life in Pompeii, Pompeii excavation, Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption in Pompeii, Pompeii news, Indian Express news Excavations of rooms in a house first discovered in 2018 revealed the environment of ordinary citizens of the city, which flourished before being destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. C. (Parco Archeologico di Pompei via AP)

The bedroom finds announced Saturday also included the remains of a wooden chest with the lid open. Although the weight of the beams and ceiling panels that collapsed in the wake of the volcanic explosion severely damaged the trunk, among the objects found inside was an oil lamp decorated with a bas-relief depicting the ancient Greek deity Zeus transforming in an eagle. Nearby was a small round table with three legs, similar to the decorative tables that are in fashion today.

Exposing the storeroom revealed a wooden cabinet, its backboard still intact but the shelves collapsed. Archaeologists believe the cupboard had at least four panel doors and contained cooking utensils and dishes for the nearby kitchen. The excavators found a hinge of the enclosure.

Other objects found in the house include a large fragment of what had been a translucent dish rimmed in brilliant shades of cobalt blue and emerald, and a well-preserved cradle-shaped incense burner.

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