Pompeii excavations open a rare window on the daily life of slaves

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MILAN – Archaeologists from Pompeii excavating a villa amid the ruins of the volcanic eruption of 79 AD

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the find was “an important find which enriches the knowledge of the daily life of ancient Pompeiians, especially the still little known level of society”.

The piece was discovered in a villa on the outskirts of Pompeii in Civita Giuliana, a short walk from where archaeologists discovered in January the remains of a well-preserved ceremonial float.

The bedroom, with a single tall window and no wall decoration, contains the remains of three wooden beds. The beds were adjustable, two measuring 1.7 meters (almost 5 feet 7 inches) and one only 1.4 meters (4 feet 7 inches), possibly indicating that a family with a child had lived there.

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Nearby, a wooden chest contained metal objects and textiles that “appear to be part of horse harnesses,” according to the archaeological park. There was also a wooden steering element for a tank.

Chamber pots and other personal items were under the beds, while eight amphorae – an ancient container used as a storage jar – were in a corner, suggesting storage for the house.

“You can imagine here the servants, the slaves who worked in this area and came to sleep here at night,” said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Pompeii archaeological park. “We know it was definitely a life in precarious conditions.”

The villa, with panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city, is considered one of Pompeii’s most important recent finds. It was discovered after police discovered illegal tunnels dug by suspected looters in 2017.

Archaeologists also discovered the skeletal remains of two people, believed to have been a rich man and his male slave, who were struck by volcanic ash while trying to escape death.

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