ROM (AP) – A trunk with the lid left open. A wooden china cabinet with collapsed shelves. Three-legged accent tables with decorative bowls. These latest discoveries by archaeologists add to the knowledge of middle-class life in Pompeii before Mount Vesuvius’ furious eruption buried the ancient Roman city under volcanic debris.
The Archaeological Park of Pompeii, one of Italy’s top tourist attractions, announced its latest finds on Saturday. Its director, Gabriel breeding bar, said the excavation of rooms in a “domus” or house, first excavated in 2018, has revealed valuable details about the domestic environment of the commoners of the city, which was destroyed in AD 79
In recent decades, excavations have largely focused on the magnificent, intricately frescoed villas of Pompeii’s upper class. But archaeological activity at the vast site near modern-day Naples has increasingly focused on the life of the middle class, servants, and other enslaved people.
“In the Roman Empire, there was a large proportion of the population who struggled with their social status and for whom ‘daily bread’ was anything but a matter of course,” said breeding bar. “A vulnerable class during political crises and food shortages, but also ambitious to climb the social ladder.”
Finds unveiled on Saturday include furnishings and household items in the domus, which has been dubbed the House of the Larario because an area of a house was dedicated to the household spirits known as the Lares. The house excavated in 2018 has one in the courtyard.
breeding bar noted that while the courtyard also had an exceptionally well-decorated cistern, “apparently the (financial) resources were insufficient to decorate the five rooms of the house.” One room had unpainted walls and a ground floor that appeared to be used for storage .
In one bedroom, archaeologists found the remains of a bed frame with a trace of fabric from the pillow. The type of bed is identical to three like beds unearthed last year in a tiny room in another dwelling that archaeologists believe served as storage and sleeping quarters for a family of enslaved Pompeii residents.
The bedroom finds announced Saturday also included the remains of a wooden trunk with the lid open. Although the trunk was badly damaged by the weight of the beams and ceiling panels that fell after the volcanic explosion, among the items found inside was an oil lamp decorated with a bas-relief depicting the ancient Greek deity Zeus transforming into an eagle . Nearby was a small, three-legged, round table, similar to the accent tables that are in fashion today.
The uncovering of the storeroom revealed a wooden cabinet, the back wall of which was still intact but the shelves collapsed. Archaeologists believe the cabinet had at least four paneled doors and contained cookware and dishes for the nearby kitchen. The excavators found a hinge from the fence.
Other items found in the house include a large fragment of a translucent rimmed plate in brilliant shades of cobalt blue and emerald, and a well-preserved incense burner in the shape of a cradle.