The ancient city of Pompeii continues to offer new insights into life in the first-century Roman Empire. The most recent excavations by archaeologists have unearthed what appears to be a middle-class house, with furnishings reflecting a desire for higher social status.
The centerpiece of the house is its luxurious thearium– a shrine to spirits believed to serve as guardians of the Roman house – in the courtyard, decorated with detailed wall paintings of an enchanted garden. Archaeologists have named the building the Lararium House after this lavish feature, but the rest of the structure appears to contain less ornate items.
“The owner knew how to embellish the courtyard with the thearium and the cistern basin with exceptional paintings, but obviously there were insufficient funds to decorate the five rooms of the house, one of which served as storage,” said Massimo Osanna, Director General of Museums Italy. , in a press release. statement.
“We don’t know who the inhabitants of the house were, but certainly the culture of otium (leisure) that inspired the wonderful decoration of the courtyard represented for them more of a future they dreamed of than a lived reality,” he added.
Inside, archaeologists found a bedroom and were able to make casts of the pillow and parts of the bed frame for the single bed. The ceiling of the room had collapsed during the eruption of Vesuvius, but a wooden chest containing a clay plate and a lantern, bearing a bas-relief sculpture of Zeus transforming into an eagle, managed to survive , its lid left ajar, presumably as its owners fled the doomed city.
A ceramic cup and pair of plates still resting on a three-legged table reflect the sudden nature of Pompeii’s destruction, freezing the city’s daily life in ashes for millennia.
The Lararium House storage room, on the other hand, had a terracotta floor and the walls were unplastered. It contains a shelf full of amphorae and a pile of wooden planks tied with ropes.
Excavations of the ground floor of the house yielded a unique find in the form of seven wax tablets. Archaeologists also unearthed well-preserved ceramic vessels, a painted incense burner and a set of bronze vessels, including a jug with a lion’s head and a sphinx on the handle.
Located in Pompeii Region V section, the main site of active archaeological work in the complex, the house was first excavated in 2018.
Other recent discoveries in Regio V, which is not fully open to the public, include frescoes of Leda and the Swan and a battle of gladiators, as well as a former “fast food” restaurant, or thermopolished.
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