Two skeletons were found during excavations in the Insula dei Casti Amanti in Pompeii. A discovery that testifies that it was not only the eruption that caused the death of the inhabitants of the area but also a concomitant earthquake. The skeletons were found during the safety construction site, resurfacing and reprofiling of the excavation fronts of the Insula dei Casti Amanti. The remains were lying on one side, in a service area, at the time decommissioned due to probable repairs or renovations underway in the house, where they had taken refuge in search of protection.
«The discovery of the remains of two Pompeians which took place in the context of the construction site in the Insula dei Casti Amanti demonstrates how much there is still to be discovered regarding the terrible eruption of 79 AD and confirms the opportunity to continue the scientific investigation and excavation activities . Pompeii is an immense archaeological laboratory which has regained strength in recent years, astonishing the world with the continuous discoveries brought to light and demonstrating Italian excellence in this sector» declares the Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano.
While the director of the park Gabriele Zuchtriegel explains: «An earthquake accompanied the eruption of 79 AD. Modern excavation techniques help us to better understand the hell that completely destroyed the city of Pompeii in two days, killing many of its inhabitants».
It was probably two male individuals aged at least 55 years. During the removal of the cervical vertebrae and the skull of one of the two skeletons, traces of organic material emerged, most likely a cloth bundle. In addition to five gl paste elements identifiable as beads from a necklace, six coins were found inside. Two silver denarii: a republican denarius, datable to the middle of the second century. BC, and another denarius, more recent, to refer to the productions of Vespasian. The remaining bronze coins (two sesterces, an as and a quadrant) were also minted during Vespasian’s principality and therefore of recent minting.
In the room where the bodies lay, some objects also emerged, such as a vertical amphora leaning against the wall in the corner near one of the bodies and a collection of vases, bowls and jugs stacked against the back wall. The most impressive thing is the evidence of damage suffered by two walls, probably due to the earthquakes that accompanied the eruption. Part of the south wall of the room collapsed hitting one of the men, whose raised arm perhaps refers to the tragic image of a vain attempt to protect himself from falling masonry. The conditions of the west wall, on the other hand, demonstrate the dramatic force of the earthquakes contextual to the eruption: the entire upper section detached and fell into the room, overwhelming and burying the other individual.
The adjacent room houses a masonry kitchen counter, temporarily out of use in 79 AD: on its surface there is in fact a pile of powdered lime waiting to be used in building activities, which suggests that at the time of the eruption they were making repairs nearby. Along the kitchen wall is a series of Cretan amphorae, originally used to transport wine. Above the kitchen counter, the traces of a home shrine in the form of a fresco that appears to depict the lares of the house and a partially recessed ceramic vessel in the wall that may have been used as a receptacle for religious offerings. Also next to the kitchen was a long, narrow room with a latrine, the contents of which would have flowed into a drainage ditch under the road. The scientific details of the excavation can be explored in the articles published in the Pompeii E-Journal – able from the Park’s official website www.pompeiisites.org – a new digital platform aimed at the scientific community and the public and aimed at providing news and preliminary reports concerning excavation, research and restoration projects in the Park offices.