Walking down the silent streets of Pompeii, admiring the villas, gardens and frescoes, you might assume that this is all there is. After centuries of thorough excavations, we must have discovered and dug up everything. But that’s not the case – one-third of the town is still buried underground. And so in the 21st century, Pompeii continues its slow reveal, unveiling secrets one at a time.
The buried treasures of Pompeii
Archaeologists frequently dig up incredible artefacts – everything from cooking utensils to frescoes. Here are some of the most intriguing recent Pompeii findings:
- A spectacular ceremonial chariot, what may have been used to bring a bride to her new home.
- An erotic fresco on a bedroom wall, depicting the myth of Leda and the swan.
- The alley of balconies – a previously undiscovered street of buildings with balconies. This discovery has revealed other archaeological treasures such as frescoes and vases.
- A richly decorated lararium – a shrine to the household gods.
- Charcoal graffiti that casts doubt on the date of the eruption of Vesuvius.
Excavation work has been particularly intensive in recent years. Some experts argue that we should leave the remaining buried area undisturbed, and focus on analysing the findings that have already been excavated. There’s a lot to analyse with so many unlucky victims of the eruption…
The bodies of Pompeii
In 2020 excavations in the suburbs of Pompeii uncovered the bodies of two victims of the eruption. One of the victims was a young man in his early 20s, and the other victim an older man aged between 30 and 40. Archaeologists working on the site have made some fascinating deductions, based on the location and the condition of the bodies. From his clothes, the older victim seems to have been a man of high status, while his companion’s damaged back indicates a life of heavy labour.
In other words, the two men may have been master and slave, fleeing the eruption together before dying of thermal shock. While other victims may have suffocated, the clenched muscles of these two men suggest thermal shock.
These victims are the most recent bodies to be discovered at Pompeii, but there have been many other findings in recent years. Although we know relatively little about who these people were, their bodies, frozen in time, tell a story. For example, the young man killed by lethal gases, whose escape from the city was slowed by his limp and the discovery of a possible family group – two women and three children sheltering inside a house
And of course, humans weren’t the only victims. A horse, still wearing its saddle and harness, was recently discovered near a villa outside the city walls. It was probably intended to bring its owner to safety, but unfortunately it was too late.
Pompeii tours: a journey into the past
To see some of the most intriguing findings and to explore the archaeological site in-depth, we recommend booking a tour of Pompeii with Roads to Rome Private Tours. Exploring the atmospheric streets and buildings in the company of an archaeologist is an unforgettable experience. The explanations of an expert guide provide valuable context. This context will help you to gain a deeper understanding of this extraordinary site, and to learn all about the inhabitants of the doomed city.
We offer tours of Pompeii as a day trip from Naples, as a shore excursion from a cruise ship, and many other options designed to suit your needs and interests. Contact our team to find out more about visiting Pompeii on a customized tour.
Read more: The race against time to save Pompeii (CNN)
Written by Alexandra Turney