A small bedroom believed to have been used by enslaved people has been discovered in a Roman villa near Pompeii, the Italian cultural ministry announced on Sunday.
The Civita Giuliana villa was located right outside Pompeii, just 2,000 feet north of the city walls. The site was first excavated from 1907–08 and then left untouched until 2017, when police found evidence of looting there.
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The newly discovered room contained two beds—only one of which had a mattress—as well as two small cabinets. Also found were a group of urns and ceramic containers that held the remains of two mice and a rat. One of the beds was damaged by robbers who created a tunnel to access another part of the villa.
“These details once again underline the conditions of precarity and poor hygiene in which the lower echelons of society lived during that time,” the culture ministry said in a statement.
Archaeologists believe that the people who resided in this villa were enslaved, but they did not find any evidence that these people had been physically restrained.
“It seems that control was primarily exerted through the internal organisation of servitude, rather than physical barriers and restraints,” Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, told the Guardian.
In 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried nearby cities in a thick layer of ash that preserved some of the ancient Roman residents and their dwellings.
Thanks to funding from the European Union, conservators and researchers have been undertake new efforts at the archaeological park in recent years. Notable finds over the past few years include the discovery of a middle-class home, a dry cleaner, and two skeletal remains.