Italiano English

The archaeological excavations site of Pompeii

Ingresso scavi archeologici di Pompei

The archaeological excavations site of Pompeii

Some facts about the archaeological excavations site of Pompeii. Owned first by the Etruscans and then by the Greeks, Italy’s most famous archaeological site was finally conquered by the Romans around the 3rd century B.C. and had about 20,000 inhabitants at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius. The catastrophe occurred in 79 A.D. and handing it down to us is the account that has come down to us from Pliny the Younger, who was a direct witness.
The Vesuvian one was a truly unique eruption. It lasted 2 days and produced thousands of tons of ash, lapilli and pyroclastic material, leaving traces of the explosion even in Greece.

The ancient archaeological excavations of Pompeii never stop astonishing archaeologists, anthropologists and the historians who in the framework of different projects continue unceasingly the study and research within this site. The ashes, which have covered this place for centuries, keep returning new objects and news all the time. Let us look at some of the most recent ones.

What is the true date of the eruption?

Alexandre Dunouy - Eruzione Vesuvio 1813.jpg
Di <a href=”” class=”extiw” title=”w:it:Alexandre-Hyacinthe Dunouy”><span title=”pittore francese”>Alexandre-Hyacinthe Dunouy</span></a> – <a rel=”nofollow” class=”external free” href=”;set=gm.655642931178936&amp;type=3&amp;theater”>;set=gm.655642931178936&amp;type=3&amp;theater</a>, Pubblico dominio, Collegamento

A letter he sent to the historian Tacitus suggests that the date of the eruption was August 24, 79 A.D., but a recent study, titled “The A.D. 79 eruption of Vesuvius: a lesson from the past and the need of multidisciplinary approaches for developments in volcanology,” seems to have found that it actually occurred not in the summer, but in the fall, precisely on October 24 of that year. Of Pliny’s letter, only copies are known, the oldest of which dates back to the 9th century. It is possible that that date was a transcription error, later passed down in all subsequent copies. The research work, carried out within the framework of the “Dynamic Planet” project and funded by the INGV, was conducted, precisely, by the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) in collaboration with the Interdepartmental Center for the Study of the Effects of Climate Change (Cirsec) and the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Pisa, the Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering of the National Research Council (Igag-Cnr), the Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans of Clermont-Ferrand (Lmv) in France and the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh in the United Kingdom.

Crediting the new dating of the eruption would be some archaeological clues, such as the finding of typically autumn fruits (chestnuts, walnuts, dried figs, and pomegranates) or the fact that many victims wore clothing that was too heavy for the hot season. But confirmation of the hypothesis comes from an inscription on a wall dated October 17, 79 AD, discovered in 2018. Since it was written with charcoal, a material that is not very resistant to the erosion of time, it would seem plausible that the eruption occurred a few days after the inscription was made and, therefore, was preserved by the ash that covered it. So, according to this study published in Earth-Science Review, the most likely date of the eruption “necessarily places it between October 24 and November 1.”

The Slave Room

It was in early November 2021 that the Pompeii Archaeological Park announced the discovery of a new, still intact slave-inhabited room inside the suburban villa of Civita Giuliana in the northern area of the excavations. The discovery occurred not far from the colonnade of the villa, where, in January of that year, a ceremonial chariot under current restoration was found.

Inside the Slave Room, the rudder of the said chariot was found, among other objects, a sign that it was part of the tasks of those who lived there to maintain and prepare the means of transportation. Also found within the walls of the new room were large stacked amphorae, the harnesses of horses, work tools, and, of course, three beds of ropes and wood, one of which was only 1.40 m long, possibly belonging to a young boy, and a chamber pot.

The room was small and without decoration or ornamentation. Lighting came from a small window, and the objects found lead one to believe that in addition to its residential use for slaves, it was also used as a storage room.

The excavation related to the villa of Civita Giuliana saw the interest and start of work in 2017, but even today work continues to search for new objects and environments to decipher the still countless mysteries of Pompeii.

The Thermopolis of Regio V in the archaeological excavations of Pompeii

Termopolio - Scavi archeologici di Pompei

Thermopolis – Archaeological excavations of Pompeii

In December 2020, a thermopolis in perfect condition was unearthed as part of the Regio V maintenance and restoration project. It is only the latest in a long series; recall, for example, the equally famous ones of Asellina and Lucius Vetutius Placidus.

The thermopolium (a name of Greek origin), in ancient Rome, was a place where citizens could find refreshment with hot drinks and, in some cases, food. In fact, as was also the case in Pompeii, it was a Roman custom to eat pradium (meal) outside the home.

The extraordinary find preserves the image of a nymph, Nereid, on horseback in a marine environment and animals, whose colors are so bright, they seem three-dimensional. The inventory of the discovery is laced with vessels still containing traces of the foods, such as fragments of animal bones, that were sold on the street. The still life and animal images that emerged probably represented the products sold in the commercial facility. The fully painted countertop makes this discovery exceptional, because it is the only Pompeian thermopolis to have it so decorated compared to the eighty or so that are counted in the rest of the archaeological site of Pompeii .

Remains of human bones were also found inside the room, placed in a partially disrupted manner, possibly as a result of clandestine excavations in modern times. Those of an individual at least 50 years old are recognized, while not much is yet known about the bones found inside a large dolio ( a type of terracotta amphora ).

The acting director general of the Pompeii Archaeological Park explained that “at work is an interdisciplinary team composed of a physical anthropologist, archaeologist, archaeobotanist, archaeozoologist, geologist, and volcanologist: the analyses already carried out in situ in Pompeii will be joined by further chemical analyses in the laboratory to understand the contents of the dolia.”