Pompeii dig offers ‘very rare glimpse’ into daily life of slaves

Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini said the villa is an ‘important discovery’

Eleanor Sly
Monday 08 November 2021 05:19
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Well-preserved 'slave room' unearthed in ancient Roman city of Pompeii

Archeologists excavating a villa in Pompeii have discovered a cramped dormitory and a storage room that they said give a “very rare insight into the daily life of slaves” under the Roman empire.

Excavations amid the ruins of the 79AD volcanic eruption which destroyed the city revealed the “important discovery” which Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said “enriches the knowledge of the daily life of ancient Pompeiians”.

He added that the findings improved understanding of a “level of society still little known” and shed “new light on the daily lives of the Romans”.

The room was found in a villa in the Pompeii suburb of Civita Giuliana, close to the site where archeologists found the remains of a well-preserved ceremonial chariot in January.

The dormitory has just one high window and no wall decorations and contains the remains of three beds made out of wood.

The beds were adjustable, with two 1.7 metres long and the third 1.4 metres. This could suggest a family with a child had lived there.

The skeletal remains of two people, believed to be a male slave and a wealthier man, were also found.

A wooden chest nearby contained a number of metallic objects and fabrics that “appear to be part of harnesses for horses,” according to archeologists. A wooden steering element for a chariot was also uncovered.

Underneath the beds, chamber pots and other personal objects were discovered, while eight amphorae — an ancient vessel used as a storage jar — were in a corner.

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

Mr Zuchtriegel called the discovery a “window on reality rarely found in historical sources”.

The villa has a panoramic view of the Mediterranean sea and is located on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city.

It is considered one of the most significant recent finds at Pompeii and was discovered after police came across illegal tunnels dug by alleged looters in 2017.

Additional reporting by AP

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