When you visit Pompeii it is like catapulting into 79 A.D. Fantastic experience! Thanks to the sadly famous eruption of Vesuvius in the first century, today we know exactly what life was like in the cities of Ancient Rome. The ash has preserved homes, shops, food, frescoes, tools, textiles, and other objects for us.

Nevertheless, when we see the Pompeiians’ bodies surprised by that tragic event, a contrasting emotion assails us.

“It is impossible to see those three deformed figures and not to feel moved. They have been dead for eighteen centuries, but they are humans who see themselves in their agony. There it is not art, it is not imitation; but it is their bones, the relics of their flesh and their clothes mixed with chalk: it is a pain of death that regains body and figure … So far temples, houses, and other objects have been found that interest the curiosity of educated, artists and archaeologists. But now you, my dear Fiorelli, you have discovered human pain, and anyone who is a man can feel it”. From “Letter to the Pompeians” by Luigi Settembrini, 1863.

Excavations of Pompeii: the new findings

Even the Villa del “Sauro Bardato” in Civita Giuliana, discovered in the early 1900s, still preserves intact spaces, “frozen” at the eruption time.
In 2017, a law enforcement operation that blocked a gang of grave robbers brought to light the bodies of three horses, one of which was harnessed with a wooden and bronze saddle. Massimo Osanna, director of the archaeological park, points out that the new findings are due to a fortuitous event: the grave robbers grazed them with their trench. The emptiness felt above the ash and debris layer. This is why, in November 2020, archaeologists excavated while the park was closed due to precautions for the Covid-19 epidemic.

A new chapter in Pompeii’s history and another reason to visit Pompeii

After taking bones and fragments useful to reconstruct these two men’s lives’ last moments, the archaeologists restored the “body” to the two skeletons. They used the same technique invented by Fiorelli in the nineteenth century. It is a casting of liquid gypsum, made to slide into the bodies’ cavity under the volcanic material.

Here they are, finally! They tried to escape the unbearable heat but found their deaths under a cryptoporticus. The youngest, no more than 25 years old, was about 156cm tall. The compressions in his vertebrae suggest that he was subjected to heavy work and, therefore, he was a slave. He wore a short tunic, probably wool, rich in folds, and a drape in the lower abdomen. The other body, given the strength of the chest, probably belonged to a man between thirty and 40 years old, about 162 cm tall. His robes were more elaborate and of different fabrics. In addition to the tunic, he also wore a wool cloak stopped on the left shoulder.

The new excavations have also brought to light some rooms in the villa’s residential area, which once overlooked the Gulf of Naples.

How many people died in Pompeii?

Giuseppe Fiorelli pointed out that after discovering Pompeii, it was possible to study the Romans on the bodies of the ancient Romans themselves instead of through the marble and bronze statues. It is estimated that more than 2000 people died in Pompeii, but not all have been found yet. In fact, in the archaeological area, there are still 20 hectares to be excavated!

While waiting for new fascinating discoveries, our invitation is to organize a visit to Pompeii as soon as possible. Even if we have already appreciated its splendor, let’s visit it with new eyes … there will be surprises!