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A truly exceptional discovery

A truly exceptional discovery!” exclaims Massimo Osanna, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

A few days ago, the 21st November 2020, during the excavations in the Villa of the harnessed chestnut were found two bodies in the cryptoporticus of a large villa. The word cryptoporticus comes from the Greek kryptos= hidden and from the Latin porticus = porch, it is a covered service corridor, which is generally located below a forum or a Roman villa, with openings to let in light and for air recycling.

The high quality suburban villa is located in Civita Giuliana, a few meters from the walls of the Roman city of Pompei.

A truly exceptional discovery that follows the one made on December 23rd 1998, when the remains of a magnificent horse of race harnessed with bridles and a saddle richly decorated. The name given to the villa comes from this specimen of harnessed chestnut, which is supposed to belong to a senior magistrate or a military commander.

The first excavations in this area were undertaken at the behest of the Marquis Giovanni Imperiali, who never continued, covering all that had been discovered until that time.

Fortunately in the last century excavations resumed, using a technique developed by Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1863: pouring a liquid plaster casting inside the volcanic material to fill the cavities left by bodies and objects.

Thanks to this process archaeologists have made us part of A truly exceptional discovery: probably on October 25th 79, during the eruption of Vesuvius that covered the cities of Hercolaneum, Stabia, Oplontis and Pompeii with lava, the patrician owner of this sumptuous villa and his slave were fleeing to reach the rest of the family. The ruins of these cities were covered by at least 10 metres of eruptive materials and were brought to light from the 18th century.

While Pompeii and Stabia were buried by pumice, ash and lapilli, Herculaneum was run over by a mixture of hot gases, ash and water vapour, known today as pyroclastic flow.

The villa we are talking about was richly decorated, with representative rooms, bedrooms, warehouse for wine and oil, large grounds and sumptuous terraces overlooking the Gulf of Naples. Its beauty has been compared with the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii.

A truly exceptional discovery that, despite the period of uncertainty and sadness that we are experiencing, is an event for the world of archaeology and for Italy too, which boasts an inestimable historical-artistic heritage that makes us hope that everything will go well.

Next spring the Villa of the harnessed chestnut will be open to the public, and we invite you to visit it with us during the tour View on the Gulf to look with your own eyes these slides that recount life at the time of the Romans. Meanwhile read the articles Lacryma Christi: between history and mystery, Below the Sea Level.

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