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Discoveries in Pompeii reveal lives of lower and middle classes | Italy

A suitcase with a lid left open, a wooden china cabinet and a three-legged accent table with decorative dishes on top. These are some of the latest discoveries by archaeologists enriching knowledge about middle-class life in Pompeii before the furious eruption of Vesuvius buried the ancient Roman city in volcanic rubble.

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

In recent decades, excavations have largely focused on the lavish, elaborately painted villas of Pompeii’s upper-class residents. But the archaeological activities at the sprawling site, near modern-day Naples, are increasingly focused on the life of the middle class, as well as servants and other enslaved people.

One of the well-preserved decorative bowls discovered in Pompeii.
One of the well-preserved decorative bowls discovered in Pompeii. Photo: 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 obvious,” Zuchtriegel said.

“A vulnerable class during political crises and food shortages, but also ambitious in climbing the social ladder.”

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The finds revealed on Saturday include furniture and household artifacts in the domus, which has been dubbed the House of the Lararium – an area of ​​a house dedicated to house spirits known as lares. The house excavated in 2018 has one in the courtyard.

Zuchtriegel noted that while the courtyard also had an exceptionally well-decorated cistern, “apparently… [financial] resources were not enough to decorate the five rooms of the house.” One room had unpainted walls and an earthen floor apparently used for storage.

Gabriel Zuchtriegel in one of the rooms of the house of the 'enchanted garden' in Pompeii, August 6, 2022.
Gabriel Zuchtriegel in one of the rooms of the house of the ‘enchanted garden’ in Pompeii, August 6, 2022. Photo: Cesare Abbate/EPA

In one bedroom, archaeologists found the remains of a bed frame with a trail of dust from the pillow. The bed is identical to three cot-like beds unearthed last year in a small room in another residence that archaeologists also say served as storage space and sleeping quarters for a family of enslaved residents of Pompeii.

The bedroom finds, announced Saturday, also include the remains of a wooden suitcase with an open lid. Although the weight of the beams and ceiling panels that came crashing down in the wake of the volcanic explosion severely damaged the trunk, among the artifacts found inside was an oil lamp decorated with a bas-relief depicting the ancient Greek deity Zeus living in an eagle is transformed.

Crockery belonging to middle-class households is separated from the rubble in Pompeii.
Crockery belonging to middle-class households is separated from the rubble in Pompeii. Photo: AP

Nearby was a small round table with three legs, similar to the accent tables in vogue today.

Uncovering the salvage, a wooden cabinet was revealed, the back of which was still intact, but the shelves collapsed. Archaeologists believe the cabinet had at least four panel doors and contained cooking utensils and dishes for the nearby kitchen. The excavators found a hinge from the housing.

Other artifacts found in the house include a large fragment of what was a translucent, rimmed plate in brilliant shades of cobalt blue and emerald, and a well-preserved incense burner in the shape of a crib.