This is the latest discovery from the servants’ quarter of the villa of Civita Giuliana, which has been explored since 2017 when it was seized from tomb robbers thanks to an agreement between the Archaeological Park of Pompeii and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata: an exceptionally well-preserved room, like the other two rooms discovered in the same sector with the slaves’ beds, where it proved possible to make plaster casts of furniture and other objects made of perishable materials: wood, fabrics and ropes. The technique of making plaster casts, used systematically since 1863 when the first casts were made of the victims of the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, is unique in the world since it is the result of the specific dynamics of the catastrophic event: the people and objects that were swept away and covered by the “pyroclastic flow”, a scorching cloud of ash and toxic gases, have remained there for centuries. But while the ash solidified, forming an extremely solid layer known as “cinerite”, organic material such as human bodies, animals or wooden objects, decomposed, leaving a void in the soil. These voids can be filled with plaster during the excavation, in order to re-obtain the original form as a “negative” imprint. The technique has led to extraordinary results in the villa of Civita Giuliana, with plaster casts of two victims and a horse as well as casts of the modest beds of the servants’ quarter.

Now another room has provided a further glimpse into the lives of the downtrodden members of society who are rarely mentioned in the literary sources. The room contains a bed, but also work tools and what appears to be a frame, possibly of another bed which had been dismantled: it is also possible to identify baskets, a long piece of rope, a piece of wood and a saw with a blade, which does not appear to differ significantly from traditional saws used until fairly recently. It even proved possible to identify a piece of rope, as usual as an imprint in the soil, which kept the saw taut.

The current funding of the excavation is coming to an end, but the Park of Pompeii, together with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, have announced that they want to continue the exploratory work, using the money set aside for excavations in the budget by Gennaro Sangiuliano, the Italian Minister of Culture, who visited Pompeii yesterday for an inspection. This is also because there are many issues that have yet to be clarified at Civita Giuliana, not just in scientific terms but also from a legal perspective.

"The continuous discoveries related to the customs and traditions of the everyday lives of the ancient Romans, made possible by the scientific investigations in the villa of Civita Giuliana close to the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, have reinforced our conviction that it is necessary to keep funding the excavations. The new rooms that have recently come to light and have been unveiled today offer precious evidence of the past of a great civilisation and are a credit to the professional expertise behind the archaeological research which has become more active than ever at Pompeii. I would like to thank the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata for their precious assistance which has helped to preserve the Villa of Civita Giuliana from the criminal activities of art traffickers and to embark on a research project that has yielded significant results", stated Gennaro Sangiuliano, the Italian Minister of Culture.

Our gamble to focus once again on campaigns of archaeological excavation is paying off. The longstanding partnership with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata is continuing to bear fruit, not just in the fight for legality, but also in terms of enriching our knowledge: just think, for example, of the extraordinary discovery of the wedding carriage in the same area in 2019. A crucial role has been played by the constant attention paid by the Ministry in relation to dedicated funding, the well-established institutional cooperation and the virtuous circle that links excavations, study and research and the enhancement of the site”, declared Massimo Osanna, the Director General of Museums of the Ministry of Culture.

It is the perfect example of close collaboration between the Ministry of Culture, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata,” said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, “an operation of great scientific and cultural importance. We would like to develop this exceptional site by making it a place that is accessible to everyone, a hub in the network of Greater Pompeii (Grande Pompei), consisting of the ancient city, the villas and the museums of Boscoreale, Oplontis and Stabia. The funds allocated in the Italian state budget for the new excavations in Pompeii and in other national parks made by the Minister Sangiuliano will help us to continue this extraordinary archaeological undertaking.”

Nunzio Fragliasso, the Public Prosecutor of Torre Annunziata, statedThis is just the latest in a series of exceptional discoveries from the archaeological site of Civita Giuliana, the result of a close partnership between the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata and the Archaeological park of Pompeii. It is designed to implement the memorandum of understanding signed by the two institutions which, by combining archaeological investigation with investigative activities, has proved to be a formidable tool in combatting illegal excavations and tomb robbing and restoring finds and evidence of exceptional historical and cultural importance to the public domain. It is crucial that the archaeological excavations at Civita Giuliana continue because, on the basis of recent information from ongoing investigations, there may be further highly significant finds that have already been earmarked by tomb-robbers although they not yet managed to get their hands on them”.


LINKS FOR PHOTOS AND  VIDEOS ( Coverage and declaration by the Park Director Zuchtriegel)