Archaeologists Uncover Eerie Sight in a Hidden Pompeii Room
Many years ago, Pompeii was once a thriving and cultivated city in Italy. But that all changed in the year 79 A.D. when Mount Vesuvius erupted and wreaked havoc throughout the Roman community.
Since then, what’s left of Pompeii has been buried beneath 20 feet of volcanic ash. The ancient city is now an archeological site, and researchers have made a chilling discovery while searching through a villa outside of Pompeii.
The Villa of Civita Giuliana Was Full of Surprises
Although Pompeii has been studied carefully by archaeologists for centuries, there is still much to understand about the doomed city. So many clues, artifacts, and relics have yet to be uncovered.
Since 2017, archaeologists have been giving special attention to a suburban villa north of Pompeii called Civita Giuliana. Researchers have already recovered a collection of historical objects from the site of the villa, including a “ceremonial chariot” with the remains of three horses.
A “Secret Room” Was Discovered
By January 2021, researchers had made a shocking discovery while conducting a dig at Civita Giuliana.
Archaeologists stumbled upon a “secret room” that was used to house enslaved servants before the volcanic eruption wiped out the entire population. Researchers were stunned by what they had discovered, and their findings painted a clearer picture of what life was like in 79 A.D. than ever before.
The Room Likely Once Belonged to Slaves
While searching through the village, archaeologists found a concealed room with three wooden beds and other ancient items such as “jars, pitchers, and a chamber pot.” It is believed that slaves lived in the hidden room.
Under ancient Roman law, slaves were considered “property” and were not viewed as people. The same room also held a number of equine equipment and accessories, leading researchers to believe that slaves were responsible for tending to the horses and the stables.
An Entire Family of Slaves Presumably Lived in the Hidden Room
A notable find for researchers was that one of the beds in the villa was smaller than the other beds. Of the three beds that were found, two measured 5.6 feet long, while the other was 4.6 feet long.
Scientists have determined that the smaller beds were meant for a child and that an entire enslaved family once lived in the hidden room. They also believe that the room was used for storage, as a pile of eight Roman jars were found.
The Room Has Been Preserved Quite Well
According to Italy’s Culture Minister, Dario Franceschini, the unearthing of Civita Giuliana’s hidden room is critical to historical research.
“This new important discovery enriches our understanding of the everyday life of the ancient Pompeiians, especially that class in society about which little is still known,” he said. The room was pristinely preserved due to the layers of volcanic ash that have entrenched it for almost 2,000 years.
Researchers Got a Look at Daily Life for the Lower Class
Gabriel Zuchtriegel, of The Archaeological Park of Pompeii, agrees that archaeologist’s recent findings are a major breakthrough for ancient research on Pompeii, where so little has been known about the area and the way of life before the catastrophic eruption.
“This is a window into the precarious reality of people who seldom appear in historical sources,” he said. “It helps us to discover a part of the ancient world which we would otherwise know little about, but which is nonetheless extremely important.”
The Villa Was an Untouched Area of Pompeii
Much of the research in Pompeii has centered around public structures, sophisticated villas, and determining what life was like for the upper class.
But this time, researchers wanted to understand how the lower class once lived. To achieve this, they excavated an untouched part of Pompeii, where they unearthed the hidden slave room that holds a vast amount of information about how enslaved servants lived thousands of years ago.
Pompeii Has Been Extensively Researched Throughout History
Steven Ellis, the co-director of the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia, is overjoyed by what his team has discovered.
“Pompeii as an archaeological site is the longest continually excavated site in the world,” he said. “Because of this, what we find in Pompeii is that every step in the development of the science of archaeology was tested out in Pompeii with mixed results.”
The “Lost Neighborhood” of Pompeii Has Proven to Be an Amazing Find
Members of the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project set their sights on Civita Giuliana with a specific reason in mind.
“It’s kind of a lost neighborhood of the city,” said Ellis. “When they first cleared it of debris in the 1870s, they left this block for ruin (because it had no large villas) and it was covered over with a terrible jungle of vegetation.” But now, “We’re digging in an area where a lot of Pompeians died during the eruption,” he revealed.
Understanding How the Lower Class Lived is Essential
It’s important to understand how underprivileged members of society used to live.
The poor and the enslaved were certainly not the upper crust of Pompeii’s society, but taking a deeper look at how they lived is vital to get a better scope of the ancient city’s hierarchy. The living arrangements for peons were far from ideal, especially when compared to how wealthy individuals were treated.
Archaeologists Are Reminded That the Area Was Overcome With Devastation
This kind of archeological work can take a heavy toll on one’s mind, and Steven Ellis has experienced the scientific burnout firsthand. “I remind myself all the time that I can investigate in such detail this ancient Roman culture as a direct result of a great human disaster,” he said.
“At the end of a day of intense mental processing and physical labor, when the tools are being packed up and put away for the night, I often take a moment to remind myself of that connection with the individuals whose homes and workshops we’re digging up.”