A ceremonial chariot with silver relief decoration, a stable with a harnessed chestnut horse, two victims of the eruption of which plaster casts were made and a room inhabited by three slaves, possibly members of a small family.

A long list of surprising finds has been brought to light by the excavation of Civita Giuliana, the site saved from long-standing looting by illegal excavators as a result of a memorandum of understanding between the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata and the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, signed in 2019 by the then director Massimo Osanna, now the Director General of Italian Museums, and the Public Prosecutor of Torre Annunziata Pierpaolo Filippelli. The agreement, renewed in 2021 by the Park Director Gabriel Zuchtriegel and the Public Prosecutor Nunzio Fragliasso, provides for joint efforts to combat illegal excavations around Pompeii and to explore and enhance the scientific value of the sites rescued from tomb robbers, with the additional support of the Carabinieri’s Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and Investigation in Torre Annunziata.

New finds have now emerged, including coarseware dishes and cups and cooking vessels, discovered upside down along the walls of a room that formed part of the servants’ quarters of a large residential complex. The vessels are thought to have been found in situ during the final phase of the eruption of AD 79. This offers further evidence confirming how the stratigraphic investigation of a complex, which had been illegally excavated for many years, can further our knowledge of aspects of everyday life that are rarely described in the written sources, thanks to the remarkable state of preservation encountered here, as in other sites around Vesuvius.

 The discovery took place in a modern street that crosses the Villa and which had to be closed to enable the investigation of the ancient structures below the carriageway, but also because an extensive network of tunnels made by tomb robbers had undermined the terrain so it had to be made safe.

These finds demonstrate the commitment and capacity of the state to combat the scourge of illegal excavations and illegal trade in archaeological artefacts. It represents an important response to the destruction wrought by tomb robbers,” declares Gennaro Sangiuliano, the Italian Minister of culture. “Pompeii is a source of pride for Italy and we intend to make an even greater effort to defend and promote a heritage site that is of such unique worldwide importance”.

The excavations at Civita Giuliana have reinforced an innovative approach whereby different institutions have been working side by side, thanks to the foresight of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata which immediately contacted and involved the Archaeological Park of Pompeii”, states Massimo Osanna. “In a territory that has such a rich history yet has undergone such severe damage, an area that still conceals important traces of the past as is being revealed by the discoveries of recent years, it is crucial that the safeguard and protection of cultural heritage should proceed hand-in-hand with respect for the law”.

As the Park Director Zuchtriegel underlines, “These discoveries confirm the importance of extending the excavations. I would like to express my gratitude to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, with whom we have been coordinating the ongoing research, and also to the City Council of Pompeii which has enabled us to extend the excavations by closing off a short section of the road. We are convinced that the results, both in scientific terms but also in terms of tourism, will justify the minor inconvenience caused to road traffic during this period. We are working to ensure that the site of Civita Giuliana can become part of the network of sites linked closely to Pompeii, such as the villas of Boscoreale, Oplontis-Torre Annunziata and Castellamare di Stabia”.

The recent archaeological discoveries at the site of Civita Giuliana have been made as part of an excavation campaign that has involved the close collaboration for some considerable time between the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata and the Archaeological Park of Pompeii as a result of the agreement signed between the two institutions. By combining archaeological research and investigative activities, the agreement represents a pilot scheme in the field of cooperation between public institutions for the safeguard and enhancement of Italian archaeological heritage.  It has proved to be a powerful tool for combatting illegal excavations and restoring finds and evidence of exceptional historical and cultural importance to the public domain”, emphasises the Public Prosecutor Nunzio Fragliasso.