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Volcanic Ash at Pompeii Froze This Beautiful, 2,000-Year-Old Shrine in Time

October 12, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt


An archeologist working on a fresco in a house discovered during excavation works in Pompeii, Italy.

Archaeologists have discovered an elaborate, perfectly preserved shrine in the wall of a house in that the residue inside the altar could be from food that also represented fertility, like figs, nuts or more eggs.

The shrine itself, known as a lararium because it was built to honor the household spirits called lares, was a common feature of Roman households. But in addition to the vibrantly decorated shrine, the room also contained a raised pool as well as the garden, suggesting the home’s owners were among Pompeii’s more affluent residents.

As Ingrid Rowland of the University of Notre Dame told the Times, “only the wealthiest people could have afforded a lararium inside a special chamber with a raised pool and sumptuous decorations.”


A view of the house of the Enchanted Garden that re-emerged, showing golden beasts fighting against a black boar like the evils of the world.

Another wall of the room is painted blood red, and features a painted hunting scene, with dogs chasing boar and deer. Another painting depicts a man with a dog’s head, which Rowland said might be a Romanized version of the Egyptian god Anubis.

Though excavations at Pompeii began in the mid-18th century, those early archaeologists were often careless and did not document what they found. Because of this, Osanna told the Times, it can be difficult for archaeologists to know what paintings and artifacts found at Pompeii looked like when they were originally discovered.

But the new discovery, of paintings left untouched since the eruption, offers a rare and tantalizing glimpse into the world frozen in time by that disaster—a world that, for thousands of people, disappeared in the space of an instant.

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Source: HISTORY

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