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article image'Sorcerer's treasure trove' of relics uncovered in Pompeii

By Karen Graham     Aug 13, 2019 in Science
A stash of ancient amulets is seeing the light of day, now that archaeologists in Pompeii have unearthed the treasures from under a pile of ash dating to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.
Mount Vesuvius, one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes, destroyed the city of Pompeii, a city south of Rome, in A.D. 79 in about 25 hours, according to History. And while Mount Vesuvius erupted 2,000-years-ago, archaeologists continue to excavate the ruins at Pompeii.
Most of the citizens of Pompeii did not die from the lava flow. Instead, they died rather quickly in a vast cloud of hot gas and fragments, called a pyroclastic flow. The cloud surged over the city, killing its residents wherever they were - burying them in ash and preserving their final moments.
Most of the items would have belonged to women  said Massimo Osanna  director of the Archaeological ...
Most of the items would have belonged to women, said Massimo Osanna, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.
Archaeological Park of Pompeii
Because the city was buried so quickly by the volcanic ash, the site is a well-preserved snapshot of life in a Roman city. This latest find was discovered in the remains of a high-status dwelling known as Pompeii’s House of the Garden in Region V, according to Archaeology.org.
Massimo Osanna, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, said the wooden box the artifacts were originally in had decomposed - while the volcanic material that had surrounded it maintained its rectangular shape. Archaeologists found the box's bronze hinges, as well as the well-preserved amulets within, according to CTV News Canada.
Indentations in the ash layer suggest the box had been placed close to a crate or piece of furniture in the corner of what may have been a storage room. Archaeologists also found a room in the house containing the bodies of 10 victims, including men, women, and children.
The objects in the trunk were for use in rituals  archaeologists think.
The objects in the trunk were for use in rituals, archaeologists think.
Archaeological Park of Pompeii
The rich trove of artifacts all seemed to be related to the female world and consisted of items which may have been worn or used to ward off bad luck and promote fertility.
The collection included two mirrors, pieces of a necklace, glazed ceramic ornaments and amulets made from bronze, bone, amber, and glass. In addition, the archaeologists found phallic-shaped amulets, a human figure and a handful of gems, including a purple amethyst with a female figure and a red carnelian with a craftsman figure, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii reported.
 They are objects of everyday life in the female world and are extraordinary because they tell micro...
"They are objects of everyday life in the female world and are extraordinary because they tell micro-stories, biographies of the inhabitants of the city who tried to escape the eruption" - says General Director Massimo Osanna.
Archaeological Park of Pompeii
Osanna said the objects in the box likely belonged to a servant or a slave. None of the objects were made of gold, an element much favored by Pompeii's wealthy residents, reports The BBC.
"They are objects of everyday life in the female world and are extraordinary because they tell micro-stories, biographies of the inhabitants of the city who tried to escape the eruption," Mr. Osanna said.
The high quality of the amber and glass pastes and the engraving of the figures confirm the importan...
The high quality of the amber and glass pastes and the engraving of the figures confirm the importance of the domus owner.
Archaeological Park of Pompeii
Osanna also said they will be trying to establish kinship relationships of the 10 bodies found, thanks to DNA analysis. "Perhaps the precious box belonged to one of these victims," he said.
The iconology of the various amulets and pendants is very interesting - invoking fortune, fertility, and protection from bad luck. There were numerous pendants in the shape of a small phallus, or the ear, the closed fist, the skull, and the figure of Harpocrates, the god of silence and secrecy.
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