In the midst of the ongoing, spectacular, dangerous eruption on Hawaii’s Big Island, archaeologists have continued to beaver away at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, the most famous of the cities annihilated but preserved by the pyroclastic fury of the 79 CE eruption of Vesuvius.
As reported by the Associated Press, experts announced late last week that they've found a "Vicolo dei Balconi", a street of fancy balcony-adorned houses. Far from being a messy wreck, these houses’ balconies can still be seen to showcase their amphorae (cone-shaped vases), fashioned in the terra cotta style, that were once used to hold wine and oil back in the day.
Archaeologists are reporting that this find is a "complete novelty", a rather pleasant reminder that, despite the excavation efforts beginning as far back as 1748, Pompeii is still able to surprise experts.
Additional work on the already partly-excavated House of Jupiter in the same part of the site has revealed, among other things, some delightfully colorful frescos featuring Aphrodite holding her mortal love, Adonis, wounded in her arms.
This is all part of a suite of recent discoveries at the famous archaeological site. Others have also been recently unearthed as work was carried out outside the city walls to the north, in an area named Civita Giuliana. This activity was prompted because that old time tradition of looting graves of the dead still continues today, with Pompeii being no exception.
According to a post by the authorities in charge, tunnels were being dug by looters hoping to get their hands on rare pieces of volcanological history. They “had already been investigating these illegal activities” when, last August, “an excavation operation [was] underway in order to advance the investigation and save the endangered archaeological heritage.”
Experts working in this region reported earlier this month that they had uncovered a “series of service rooms from a large, exceptionally well-preserved suburban villa,” which contain, among other things, “amphorae, kitchen utensils and part of a wooden bed.”
The remains of a horse – now preserved as a cast – were also found beneath the eerily thick volcaniclastic deposit. It died in the stable in which it lived its life, and – much like everyone else caught in the pyroclastic flows or (gassier) surges – it would have perished instantly, most likely through extreme heat shock. Luckily, unlike some of the human victims, its skull did not explode when the surges hit.
The team also found a “tomb dating to the post AD 79 period, which guarded the skeleton of the deceased,” a rare find of something in the area that wasn’t smothered by the pyroclastic debris currents. With a greatly damaged skull and a pelvic girdle “fragmented to the point of quasi-pulverization”, this 40-55-year-old male skeleton’s lifestyle is currently unclear, but he is apparently equipped with “anomalous dental wear.”