Correspondent in Rome
Pompeii it amazes again with a sensational discovery. In the latest excavations in Pompeii, two intact bodies of two people fleeing after the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 AD It is about a man in his 40s, from the upper class of the ancient Roman city, wrapped in a woolen cloak, and his young slave in a robe, his bones already worn down by years of hard work. Along with the bodies, another heavy wool manufacture was also found, perhaps a second layer or perhaps a blanket, the rubbings have revealed.
“Is a absolutely exceptional discovery», Declared to the Ansa agency the professor Massimo Osanna, for years director of the Pompeii archaeological park, and since September general director of public museums. “For the first time in more than 150 years,” added Osanna, “it was possible to make perfect tracings of the victims and the things they carried with them when they were hit and died from the boiling fumes of the eruption.”
For his part, the Minister of Cultural Assets, Dario Francescini, has described as “incredible” the find, which took place just a few days ago in the ongoing excavation, since the beginning of years, in the large suburban village of Civita Giuliana, 700 meters northwest of Pompeii. The Pompeii Archaeological Park extended its excavations to that area in 2017, with the aim of rejecting the so-called “tombaroli” (grave robbers), who have left extensive traces of their crime in the area.
In that same village, the remains of three race horses were found in his stables in 2018. One of them in particular attracted attention because it was fully harnessed, with a refined chair in wood and bronze and gleaming harnesses, as if it were the moment of the imminent departure of the owner of the villa, perhaps a military commander or a high-ranking magistrate. It is also the same residence where a few months ago a wall painted in fresco with the white flower and graffiti with the name of the little «Mummia», the girl who could have been the daughter of the owners of that farm, was discovered.
According to Massimo Osanna this Pompeian residence is “of the highest quality, with richly decorated rooms and with frescoes, sumptuous terraces on several levels with views of the Gulf of Naples and Capri, as well as a special section for the services of the villa with a land that extended to the sea, with spaces for oil and wine warehouses.
The excavation, still in progress, perhaps clarify better in the coming months the role and life of these two men and where they were going. For example, it will be possible to check if the rest of the large family that populated the residence was also arriving, which surely already from very early in the morning would have sought security in the rooms.
The knowledge accumulated in recent years about the last moments of Pompeii will be able to clarify how these two men lived the end of their tragedy. “With a good approximation to the facts,” explained the director Osanna, it should have happened in the early morning of the second day of the eruption“Therefore, around 9 am on October 25, that terrible 79 AD. C.
In less than twenty hours Vesuvius expelled ten billion tons of magma, hundreds of millions of tons of vapors and other gases at an exit velocity of 300 meters per second. In a radius of 12-15 kilometers, the territory in the direction of Pompeii was under a thickness of three meters of lava. The shape of the coast changed, He buried Herculaneum under twenty meters of volcanic mud and Pompeii under almost six meters of lava, pumice and ash. Few inhabitants were saved, only those who left immediately. Certain data on the dead are available to us, but they are estimated between eight and ten thousand for Pompeii and between three thousand and four thousand in Herculaneum.
The rubbings, decisive
The rubbings will be decisive, will give us light on the lives of these two men now discovered and their role in the great and lavish residence where they have been found. The director Massimo Osanna explained that “we are having new light on the life of the Pompeians thanks to the investigations on the skeletal remains found in the plaster casts”, an invention due to the great intuition of an archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli (1823-1896), prominent director of the excavations.
Only since 1858, thanks to the genius method introduced by Fiorelli, we can appreciate the imprint that the eruption left on the Pompeians, by obtaining plaster casts of the dead. The bodies, decomposing over the centuries, had left empty spaces under the lava. Fiorelli filled them in with liquid plaster introduced through holes in the crust created over Pompeii after the eruption. In that empty chamber, where the organic matter had disappeared, Fiorelli obtained molds of extraordinary precision that reflected the last moments of the lives of these people.
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