ROME – A trunk with its lid left open. A wooden dishware closet, its shelves caved in. Three-legged accent tables topped by decorative bowls. These latest discoveries by archaeologists are enriching knowledge about middle-class lives in Pompeii before Mount Vesuvius’ furious eruption buried the ancient Roman city in volcanic debris.
Pompeii’s 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 unearthed in 2018 had revealed precious details about the domestic environment of ordinary citizens of the city, which was destroyed in 79 A.D. In past decades, excavation largely concentrated on sumptuous, elaborately frescoed villas of Pompeii’s upper-class residents. But archaeology activity in the sprawling site, near modern-day Naples, has increasingly focused on the lives of the middle class as well as of servants and other enslaved people.
“In the Roman empire, there was an ample chunk of the population that 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 about climbing the social ladder.” The finds unveiled on Saturday include furnishings and household objects in the Domus, which was dubbed the House of the Lario for an area of a home devoted to domestic spirits known as lares. The home unearthed in 2018 has one in the courtyard. Zuchtriegel noted that while the courtyard also had an exceptionally well-adorned cistern, “evidently, the (financial) resources weren’t enough to decorate the five rooms of the home.”
What other objects were discovered?
One room had unpainted walls and an earthen floor apparently used for storage.
In a bedroom, archaeologists found the remains of a bed frame with a trace of fabric from the pillow. The kind of bed is identical to three, cot-like beds unearthed last year in a tiny room in another residence that archaeologists believe doubled as a storeroom and sleeping quarters for a family of enslaved inhabitants of Pompeii.
The bedroom findings announced Saturday also included the remains of a wooden trunk with an open lid.