After two months of lockdown, a sun-drenched Pompeii is preparing to welcome the arrival of the first visitors tomorrow morning. It also returns to reveal incredible surprises. It happens in the new excavation site north of the Roman city, just outside the walls of the ancient colony. Here painted walls and architectures are coming to light which suggest a structure close, in importance and pomp, to the famous Villa of the Mysteries. A complex of the Augustan age with very important dimensions, with representative rooms alongside those of service and work. All the elements, the director of the Archaeological Park Massimo Osanna anticipates exclusively to ANSA, which make one think “of a large, very important suburban villa, imposing and overlooking the sea, so rich as to host in its stables also horses of great breed, finely harnessed in bronze “.
We are in the Civita Giuliana area. The discovery, which the Park archaeologists began working on just this past week, is the result of a joint operation between the Procuratorate of Torre Annunziata with the prosecutor Pierpaolo Filippelli, the carabinieri and the Park. This is the same survey that led a year ago to the discovery of a series of service areas and a stable with the remains of three saurians and their precious harnesses. And which then allowed investigators and scholars to locate the largest treasure right in the garden of the tomb raider’s house, now being expropriated while the man is on trial. In that lawn, conveniently hidden by a wooden shed, a well had been dug that goes down to the level of what was once the villa. Here the grave robbers had set up their work site, also digging an impressive tunnel over 60 meters long, which from the rooms of the cryptoporticus reaches the stables. In a corner, neat and ready to use, all the tools of the trade remained, from the chisels to the bin to rinse the stolen finds from the ground. On the one hand, therefore, there is the discovery of the most majestic rooms of the villa, which will hopefully add new precious pieces to the history of the Roman colony and its tragic end, on the other, the evident story of the clandestine activity that has always broken and by raiding it hurts everyone’s heritage and puts at risk the reconstruction of the context.
The large suburban estate, whose representative rooms will now be brought to light, had already been partially excavated, but leaving practically nothing in the archive, between 1907 and 1908. It was composed of a residential sector, articulated around a peristyle with a rectangular plan, delimited on two sides by an arcade and in the third by a long cryptoporticus covered by a terrace overlooking the fields. A residence of the highest quality, emphasizes Osanna, “with richly frescoed and furnished rooms, sumptuous sloping terraces that overlooked the Gulf of Naples and Capri, as well as an efficient service district, with the farmyard, oil and wine warehouses and large densely cultivated land” . Belonged perhaps to a general or a very high military magistrate, perhaps even to an exponent of the Mummii as that name seems to tell us graffiti on the wall by a child’s hand (on the inscriptions, explains Osanna, the epigraphist Antonio Varone is now doing a thorough study) the villa was only partially damaged by the earthquake that preceded the climax of the eruption. And today it could reveal great surprises precisely because the large amount of pyroplastic material that invaded its rooms on that terrible night in late October two thousand years ago, may have helped its conservation.
Of course, the new excavations, financed with 2 million ordinary park funds, will take time. In the end, however, assures the director, the estate will be open to the public with all its range of stories including that of the little Mummy and her tragic fate. And it is said that the tunnels dug into the earth by the tomb robbers, their instruments, the memory of a raid that offends history are not left as well.