Category Archives: ITALY

This Medieval Mother Had a Gruesome ‘Coffin Birth’ After Medieval Brain Surgery

This Medieval Mother Had a Gruesome ‘Coffin Birth’ After Medieval Brain Surgery

Italian archaeologists have uncovered a medieval grave containing the remains of a woman buried near Bologna, Italy, with a 38-week-old fetus lying between her legs, reports said. Researchers believe the fetus “extruded after the burial” and called it an example of a “coffin birth,” Forbes reported.

The team from the Universities of Ferrara and Bologna said that the child’s leg bones possibly never made it out of the pelvic cavity, however, the upper torso and head likely did, meaning “the fetus was likely partially delivered.”

The mother’s skull showed a small, circular wound, likely caused during primitive brain surgery called trepanation

The mother’s skeletal remains showed a forehead cut and a 5-millimeter hole adjacent to that, likely intentionally drilled during a primitive skull surgery, according to the researchers.

Coffin birth, which the researchers said was the case in this specific case, is a phenomenon that takes place when a deceased pregnant woman’s fetus is expelled from the grave.

Around two to five days after the death of the pregnant woman, the phenomenon, also known as “postmortem fetal extrusion,” occurs following a build-up of gas pressure inside the body thus forcing the fetus to be ejected from the vaginal canal. Researchers said, in this case, the fetus had already died when the mother was buried.

The case in point was first uncovered back in 2010, when archaeologists found the strange Middle Ages burial in Imola, Italy.

A closeup of the skeleton’s pelvis reveals the bones of a partially-delivered fetus. This “coffin birth” likely occurred after posthumous gasses built up inside the dead mother’s body.

It suggested a proper, intentional burial, however, they also discovered a pile of bones below the pelvis of the skeletal remains of the woman. The woman’s skull had a hole in it making the scene further complicated.

Further investigation was then conducted by the researchers, the results of which have currently been published in the science journal World Neurosurgery.

According to the new research, the buried woman is believed to be somewhere between 25 and 35 years old when she died and was buried. The fetus was at 38 weeks of development (just two weeks less than the time of being full term).

The baby’s legs were said to be still inside the mother’s body, however, its head and upper body had dropped below the pelvic cavity. The fetus was already in its head-down orientation (the cephalic position) and was thus positioned for birth, the researchers explained.

The five-millimeter circular hole across her forehead suggests that she had undergone a procedure called trepanation- an ancient surgical procedure, which involves creating a hole in the skull by either scraping or drilling away layers of bone.

Female burial from near Bologna Italy (c. 7th c AD).

Trepanation was said to be used in the treatment of eclampsia — a hypertensive pregnancy disorder. The researchers proposed that the woman might have undergone skull surgery for this purpose.

“Historically, trepanation was used for treating several symptoms and disorders, such as cranial injuries, high intracranial pressure, convulsions, and high fever — all three of which are also caused by eclampsia,” Alba Pasini, a co-author of the study and a researcher from the Department of Biomedical and Specialty Surgical Sciences at University of Ferrara, said in an interview with Gizmodo.

“Scientific literature — both medical and archaeo-anthropological — attests that [these symptoms] were treated through trepanation from prehistory to the contemporary era.

We are sure, as reported in the paper, that this treatment did not heal the woman, since there are only the first signs of osteological reaction attesting the beginning of the healing process of the bone, indicating that the woman survived one week from the surgery at most,” Pasini added.

The woman, according to the researchers, lived for around one more week following the surgery, and had been buried while still pregnant, and thus that led to her having a coffin birth while her body decomposed, researchers concluded.

Long stretch of underground aqueduct found in Naples

Long stretch of underground aqueduct found in Naples

Once played in by local children, a vast tunnel that goes through a hill in Naples, Italy, is actually a Roman aqueduct, archaeologists say.

Speleologists explore the Aqua Augusta, a Roman aqueduct that was previously the least-documented aqueduct in the Roman world.

Forty years ago, when children in Naples were playing in caves and tunnels under the hill of Posillipo in Italy, they didn’t know their playground was actually a Roman aqueduct.

When they shared their memories with archaeological authorities recently, it kicked off an exploration of one of the longest, most mysterious examples of ancient water infrastructure in the Roman world.

Rome’s famous aqueducts supplied water for baths, drinking, public fountains and more. Built during a period of about half a millennium (roughly 300 B.C. to A.D. 200), aqueducts around the former Roman Empire are highly recognizable thanks to their multitiered arched structure.

But this marvel of ancient architecture represents only a small fraction of the actual water system; the vast majority of the infrastructure is still underground.

Outside of Rome, subterranean aqueducts and their paths are much less understood. This knowledge gap included the newly investigated Aqua Augusta, also called the Serino aqueduct, which was built between 30 B.C. and 20 B.C. to connect luxury villas and suburban outposts in the Bay of Naples.

Circling Naples and running down to the ancient vacation destination of Pompeii, the Aqua Augusta is known to have covered at least 87 miles (140 kilometers), bringing water to people all along the coast as well as inland.

But the complex Aqua Augusta has barely been explored by researchers, making it the least-documented aqueduct in the Roman world.

New discoveries earlier this month by the Cocceius Association, a non-profit group that engages in speleo-archaeological work, are bringing this fascinating aqueduct to light.

This This Roman aqueduct found in Naples supplied water to ancient luxury villas.

Thanks to reports from locals who used to explore the tunnels as kids, association members found a branch of the aqueduct that carried drinking water to the hill of Posillipo and to the crescent-shaped island of Nisida.

So far, around 2,100 feet (650 meters) of the excellently preserved aqueduct has been found, making it the longest known segment of the Aqua Augusta.

Graziano Ferrari, president of the Cocceius Association, told Live Science in an email that “the Augusta channel runs quite near to the surface, so the inner air is good, and strong breezes often run in the passages.”

Exploring the aqueduct requires considerable caving experience, though. Speleologists’ most difficult challenge in exploring the tunnel was to circumvent the tangle of thorns at one entrance. 

“Luckily, the caving suits are quite thornproof,” he said. “After succeeding in entering the channel, we met normal caving challenges — some sections where you have to crawl on all fours or squeeze through.” 

In a new report, Ferrari and Cocceius Association Vice President Raffaella Lamagna list several scientific studies that can be done now that this stretch of aqueduct has been found.

Specifically, they will be able to calculate the ancient water flow with high precision, to learn more about the eruptive sequences that formed the hill of Posillipo, and to study the mineral deposits on the walls of the aqueduct.

Rabun Taylor, a professor of classics at the University of Texas at Austin who was not involved in the report, told Live Science in an email that the newly discovered aqueduct section is interesting because it is “actually a byway that served elite Roman villas, not a city.

Multiple demands on this single water source stretched it very thin, requiring careful maintenance and strict rationing.” 

Taylor, an expert on Roman aqueducts, also said the new find “may be able to tell us a lot about the local climate over hundreds of years when the water was flowing.”

This insight is possible thanks to a thick deposit of lime, a calcium-rich mineral that “accumulates annually like tree rings and can be analyzed isotopically as a proxy for temperature and rainfall,” he explained. 

Ferrari, Lamagna and other members of the Cocceius Association plan to analyze the construction of the aqueduct as well, to determine the methods used and the presence of water control structures.

“We believe that there are ample prospects for defining a research and exploration plan for this important discovery, which adds a significant element to the knowledge of the ancient population” living in the Bay of Naples, they wrote in the report.

Archaeologists Find 24 Bronze Statues, Preserved in Tuscan Spa for 2,300 Years

Archaeologists Find 24 Bronze Statues, Preserved in Tuscan Spa for 2,300 Years

Archaeologists have been excavating ancient thermal baths outside Siena, Italy, since 2019. But just last month, peeking out through the mud and water, small unidentified fragments slowly began to appear: a hand, an elbow, a glimmering coin.

The thermal baths helped preserve the ancient statues.

Since then, researchers have unearthed 24 perfectly preserved bronze statues dating back some 2,300 years, as well as a cache of thousands of coins and other significant artifacts.

The discovery in San Casciano dei Bagni, a small hilltop town in the Siena province known for its thermal baths, is nothing short of groundbreaking, experts say.

The find is “the largest deposit of bronze statues of the Etruscan and Roman age ever discovered in Italy and one of the most significant in the whole Mediterranean,” says excavation leader Jacopo Tabolli, a historian at the University for Foreigners in Siena, in a statement, per Google Translate.

One of the sculptures discovered in the ancient thermal baths
A sculpture in the mud at the excavation site

The statues date back to between the second century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., which was a time of great upheaval in Tuscan history: The transition from Etruscan to Roman rule was taking place, through hard-fought battles over towns such as this one.

After the Romans eventually prevailed, they led a concentrated campaign to redefine and minimize Etruscan culture, burying or destroying historical items.

Among the statues are likenesses of Hygieia, Apollo and other Greco-Roman gods. Some of them bore Latin and Etruscan inscriptions with the names of prominent Etruscan families.

“This discovery rewrites the history of ancient art,” Tabolli adds. “Here, Etruscans and Romans prayed together.”

Tabolli thinks that the statues were immersed in thermal waters in a sort of ritual. “You give to the water because you hope that the water gives something back to you,” he tells Reuters’ Alvise Armellini.

Experts clean one of the sculptures.
The excavation site in San Casciano dei Bagni in the Siena region of Italy
Two bronze busts dating back about 2,300 years

Researchers can’t know for certain why the statues were drowned in the thermal waters, but they do know that the waters helped keep them in such good condition.

The mud creates an atmosphere without oxygen, which helps keep the bronzes safe from bacteria, says Helga Maiorano, an archaeologist at the University of Pisa, to la Repubblica’s Azzurra Giorgi.

“One of the last ones [of the statues] particularly struck me for the quality of the details,” Chiara Fermo, an archaeologist at the University of Siena, tells La Repubblica, per Google Translate.

“It is a female statue, entirely bejeweled, with very detailed necklaces and earrings. An example of what a woman of the time must have been like.”

The area’s thermal baths were used until the fifth century C.E., when public bathing practices were banned under new Christian regulations.

The statues and other discoveries have been taken to a restoration lab in nearby Grosseto. Eventually, they’ll go on display in a new museum opening in San Casciano.

Baby Buried With Care 10,000 Years Ago Found in Italian Cave

Baby Buried With Care 10,000 Years Ago Found in Italian Cave

Archaeologists studying a cave in Liguria, Italy, have found the earliest known burial of a female infant in Europe. Surrounded by grave goods, the baby, whom the researchers dubbed “Neve” in honor of a nearby river, was 40 to 50 days old when she died about 10,000 years ago, reports Brian P. Dunleavy for United Press International (UPI).

Archaeologists unearthed the body of a female infant at a 10,000-year-old burial site in the Arma Veirana cave in Italy.

The child’s remains were wrapped in a shroud adorned with more than 60 beads and four pendants, all of which were made out of shells. An eagle-owl talon that may have been a gift was discovered nearby. 

As the team argues in the journal Scientific Reports, the burial reflects the infant’s treatment as a full person by an early Mesolithic hunter-gatherer culture, with the items buried alongside her indicating significant emotional investment.

Finding the bones of babies from prehistoric or ancient times is rare because they’re extremely fragile, reports Tom Metcalfe for National Geographic. The new discovery is especially unusual because the remains were preserved well enough to extract DNA. In most cases, infants’ bone DNA has deteriorated too much to determine sex.

Adult burials dated to more than 14,000 years ago are somewhat common archaeological finds. But examples from the early Mesolithic (around 10,000 B.C.E.) are few and far between.

The remains of the infant, nicknamed “Neve” after a nearby river, were found together with grave goods. The intricate style of burial marks the full personhood afforded to the baby by her hunter-gatherer community.

“The number of burials at this time, between about 10,000 and 11,000 years ago, is very, very rare,” lead author Jamie Hodgkins, an archaeologist at the University of Colorado, tells National Geographic. “… [I]t’s in a gap where we don’t have much of anything at all.”

Neve’s grave is located in the Arma Veirana cave in the mountains of Liguria, a region in northwestern Italy. A popular spot for visitors, the site is also a target for thieves. The researchers began studying the cave in 2015 after looters exposed late Ice Age tools there, writes Ian Randall for the Daily Mail.

Signs of activity in the cave date back more than 50,000 years, to a time when its most likely inhabitants would have been Neanderthals. Archaeologists found boar and elk bones that showed signs of butchering, as well as charred animal fat. After digging deeper into the cave in 2017, the team found the infant’s burial site.

“I was excavating in the adjacent square and remember looking over and thinking, ‘That’s a weird bone,’” says study co-author Claudine Gravel-Miguel, an archaeologist at the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, in a statement.

The team fully excavated the gravesite in 2018. The ornaments buried with Neve were made with care; judging from patterns of wear, they were probably passed down to the child by other members of her community.

“The presence of perforated shells with traces of prolonged use means that these have been worn for a long time by the adults,” study co-author Fabio Negrino, an archaeologist at the University of Genoa, tells Rachel Elbaum of NBC News. “These shells were perhaps sewn to her dress.”  

Neve’s remains were wrapped in a shroud adorned with beads and pendants made of shells. The talon of an eagle-owl was buried along side her as a supposed gift.

Tests conducted on the infant’s teeth revealed details of her short life. According to the study, carbon and nitrogen analysis found that before she was born, her mother ate a land-based diet. Neve experienced stress in the womb that led her teeth to temporarily stop growing. DNA and protein tests showed that she belonged to a European lineage known as the U5b2b haplogroup.

Researchers compared the find to the remains of two infants buried at Upward Sun River in Alaska some 11,500 years ago and rediscovered in 2013. In both cases, the infant girls appear to have been recognized as people in their own right.

This acknowledgement of personhood may have stemmed from a common ancestral culture, write the authors in the study. Alternatively, it could have arisen independently.

María Martinón-Torres, a paleoanthropologist who was not involved in the study, tells National Geographic that evidence of children’s personhood dates back to the early Homo sapiens and Neanderthal periods.

She adds, “The earliest documented burials in Africa … involve children and a deliberate dedication to the way the body is disposed.”

In a separate statement, Hodgkins says, “Archaeological reports have tended to focus on male stories and roles, and in doing so have left many people out of the narrative. … Without DNA analysis, this highly decorated infant burial could possibly have been assumed male.”

Archaeologists Solve Mystery of 5,600-Year-Old Skull Found in Italian Cave

Archaeologists Solve Mystery of 5,600-Year-Old Skull Found in Italian Cave

Natural forces moved a Stone Age woman’s bones through the cavern over time

Some of the marks seen on the woman’s skull predated her death, while others were likely left by natural forces following her burial.

Around 5,600 years ago, a Stone Age woman died in what is now northern Italy. Archaeologists found her skull deep in the Marcel Loubens cave, at the top of a vertical shaft only accessible with special climbing equipment, in 2022.

But while ancient people in the area occasionally buried their dead in caves, no other bones—whether hers or someone else’s—were recovered nearby.

Now, reports Laura Geggel for, researchers say they’ve discovered how the woman’s head ended up in that hard-to-reach space. As detailed in the journal PLOS One, the team suggests that natural forces, including opening sinkholes, mudslides and floods of water, moved it through the cave system over time.

The new findings offer a remarkable amount of detail about the ancient woman, as well as the fate of her skull after her death. Led by Maria Giovanna Belcastro, an archaeologist at the University of Bologna, the researchers found that the 24- to 35-year-old died sometime between 3630 and 3380 B.C., during Italy’s Eneolithic period, or Copper Age. As George Dvorsky notes for Gizmodo, she suffered from health problems, including nutritional deficiencies and an endocrine disorder.

Humans living in the region during the Copper Age shifted to an agricultural lifestyle marked by rising population density and an increasingly grain-based diet. This change meant more exposure to pathogens and parasites, as well as less varied sources of sustenance.

Reports that the skull’s owner had underdeveloped tooth enamel, suggesting childhood health problems, and cavities that may have been the result of her high-carbohydrate diet. She also had dense spots on her skull that may have been benign tumors.

The researchers had to use special climbing equipment to reach the skull.

Other than a missing jawbone, the skull was incredibly well preserved, enabling the authors to study it in detail with the help of microscopes, a CT scanner and a 3-D replica.

The analysis found evidence of some kind of procedure, possibly a surgery, performed on the woman when she was alive. The team posits that someone applied a red ocher pigment around the injury, possibly for therapeutic or symbolic purposes.

Many of the marks on the skull date to after the woman’s death. Some seem to come from the removal of flesh from the skull—a common procedure in many ancient societies.

As Garry Shaw reported for Science magazine in 2022, farmers living on Italy’s east coast 7,500 years ago removed muscle tissue from the deceased’s bones and transported them to caves for burial, possibly as part of a year-long mourning ritual.

Other damage to the skull appears to have occurred through natural processes, which also left the bones encrusted in sediment.

“After being treated and laid to rest in a burial place, the skull of this corpse rolled away, most likely moved by water and mud down the slope of a sinkhole and into the cave,” say the authors in a statement. “Later, continued sinkhole activity created the modern structure of the cave, with the bone still preserved within.”

The researchers add that the new find extends scientists’ understanding of the varied funerary practices of ancient people in the area.

Christian Meyer, a specialist in the archaeology of violence at the OsteoArchaeological Research Center in Germany who was not involved in the research, tells  that “case studies like this are important to show the huge variety of postmortem episodes that can actually happen to skeletal remains, initiated by natural or anthropogenic [human-caused] factors.”

‘Miniature Pompeii’ Found Beneath Abandoned Verona Cinema

‘Miniature Pompeii’ Found Beneath Abandoned Verona Cinema

In the second century A.D., “a calamitous event, in this case a fire, suddenly marked the end of the complex,” notes a statement

Researchers found the charred remains of wooden furniture at the site of the former Astra cinema in Verona.

Archaeologists digging under an abandoned cinema in Verona, Italy, have discovered the ruins of a second-century Roman building evocative of a “miniature Pompeii,” according to the Superintendency of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona, Rovigo and Vicenza.

As Mario Poli of the Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) reports, the building appears to have suffered a fire that left its roof collapsed and wooden furniture partially burned.

In a parallel to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed Pompeii in 79 A.D, “a calamitous event, in this case a fire, suddenly marked the end of the complex, leaving traces,” notes the superintendency in a statement translated by Angela Giuffrida of the Guardian.

Per VeronaSera, researchers are unsure what the building was used for but think it was too large to function as a private residence. The statement says that despite the fire damage, some of the structure’s interior was “preserved intact, with the magnificent colors of the frescoed walls dating back to the second century.” Other finds included decorated concrete floors and heating systems, notes ANSA.

Workers first found traces of an ancient Roman structure at the site—home of the former Astra cinema—in 2022, reports VeronaSera. Camilla Bertoni of Corriere del Veneto writes that experts returned to the theater, which shuttered 20 years ago, ahead of a major renovation and redevelopment project.

The Astra cinema closed some 20 years ago.

The abandoned cinema stands near the center of the northern Italian city, just blocks from the Verona Arena, a Roman amphitheater that remains in use 2022.

During the Roman era, the area where the amphitheater is located was on the outskirts of the urban area, just outside the city walls, according to Culture Trip.

Verona, located about 300 miles north of Rome, was probably founded sometime in the second century B.C., per World History Encyclopedia. Its first residents may have been members of an ancient Gallic tribe.

It became a Roman colony in the first century A.D., around the time the Verona Arena was built. By the time the newly unearthed building was erected, Verona was part of the Roman Empire.

In, the city is a Unesco World Heritage site known for both its Roman-era history and its prosperity as an independent entity under the control of the Scaliger family during the 13th and 14th centuries.

William Shakespeare’s use of Verona as the setting of Romeo and Juliet adds to its attraction for visitors, though it’s worth noting that the playwright never actually visited the city.

Last year, archaeologists unearthed a well-preserved mosaic floor dated to around the third century A.D. at a vineyard just north of Verona, as Camilla Madinelli of L’Arena reported at the time. The tiles—and portions of the villa’s foundations—had long been buried beneath growing vines.

A “Fast Food” Shop Is Uncovered In Pompeii, Depicting Some Of The Dishes They Would Eat

A “Fast Food” Shop Is Uncovered In Pompeii, Depicting Some Of The Dishes They Would Eat

The ancient world was much more lively and colorful than many of us give it credit for. Some discoveries also show just how similar we were to the people who lived thousands of years ago… from our love of snacks to our love of colorful and eye-catching art.

Archaeologists have made a stunning discovery in Pompeii: they uncovered a hot food and drinks shop that’s decorated with gorgeous and detailed frescoes. The shop, known as a thermopolium in Latin, served the equivalent of street food to Romans. And what I wouldn’t give for a bite and a drink.

Researchers discovered the shop in the Regio V site in the Pompeii archaeological park. You’ll remember Pompeii from history class, dear Pandas. It’s the city with a population of around 13,000 people that Mount Vesuvius covered in volcanic ash in the year 79 AD.

Bored Panda reached out to the team at the Pompeii Archaeological Park to learn more about the newest finds, what we know about Pompeian cuisine, and how the thermopolium remained in such great condition over the years. Read on for their educational insights, dear Pandas!

Archaeologists uncovered an ancient snack bar in the Regio V site in Pompeii

“From the preliminary analysis of the remains found during the emptying of the containers incorporated into the counter structure, we know of the presence of a slaughtered fragment of pork bone, a fragment of duck bone, and a herringbone,” the archaeological officer from the Park told Bored Panda.

The explained that we can draw information about the eating habits in the Vesuvian city mainly from the Latin writers Apicius, Columella, and Pliny who lived between the first century BC and the first century AD.

Some of the staples included pork and fish; but so far, a lot about the dishes served in the thermopolium is still guesswork. “We know that in the Pompeian cuisine, as in general on the Roman tables, pork was particularly appreciated which could be cooked fresh or preserved through smoking or salting procedures.

The consumption of fish was also particularly widespread. At the current state of research, we are not yet able to define exactly which dishes were served at the thermopolium: the work in progress on the containers could, however, reveal pleasant surprises and news in the near future.”

The bar is decorated with gorgeous frescoes of animals, some of which were served by the vendor (not the dog, obviously)

The archaeological officer explained to Bored Panda that Pompeii represents “an exceptional case of conservation” for the very same reasons that brought about its doom. “The violent eruptive phenomenon caused, in just 19 hours of activity, the death and burial of the entire city, originating, at the same time, a singular phenomenon of conservation of the buildings and the objects they contain.

In the early stages of the Plinian event [i.e. Vesuvian eruption], the eruptive materials, the pumice, falling on the city invaded and filled every free space; subsequently, the pyroclastic flow of cinerite sealed, like a large plug, the whole of Pompeii.”

All things considered, the frescoes are in wonderful condition

They continued: “Therefore, a condition of total absence of light, air, and humidity has been created under this cap which has significantly contributed to the conservation not only of the wall structures and furnishings, but above all of the surfaces characterized by the presence of decorative elements.

The pictorial films, in fact, are particularly damaged precisely by light, air, and humidity; the lack of these three elements, over the course of about two thousand years, has allowed us to discover the original colors of the paintings that emerged during the excavation of the thermopolium.”

The vendor would put their jars of food into the holes in the bar

However, there’s some sad news. The officer revealed that the excavation investigations in Regio V that brought us the delightful thermopolium environment and the frescoed counter will end in august of 2022. “No other [excavation] campaigns are planned, at least so far. excavation in this Regio V, which from 2022 to  has reserved us many surprises.

However, it would be nice to be able to continue the excavations in the environments that develop around the thermopolium, partly already brought to light, in such a way as to be able to reconstruct this corner of insula 3.” So, we’re not losing hope just yet, but we can’t deny that we can’t wait to see what future excavations will bring to light.

Researchers made other recent discoveries in the Regio V site as well

They also discovered human bones

“This is an extraordinary find. It’s the first time we are excavating an entire thermopolium,” Massimo Ossana, the director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, told the media.

I personally spent a good 5 minutes looking at the frescoes in detail because they’re absolutely gorgeous. Especially the hen one. The details and colors there are stunning. I never knew an uncooked chicken could make me feel so happy.

Frescoes are usually painted on freshly applied plaster using water-based pigments. As the paint dries, it sets together with the plaster and becomes a permanent part of the surroundings.

Archaeologists found traces of food in the thermopolium’s terracotta jars, including beef, pork, fish, and snails. Vendors would lower the jars into the shop’s counter that had circular holes to hold them. Meanwhile, the front of the counter was decorated with colorful frescoes (they really do catch the eye, don’t they?), some of which included animals that you’d find in the snacks.

What’s more, researchers discovered wine flasks, amphorae, jars for making soups and cooking stews, and a patera—a decorated bronze drinking bowl. You could get pretty much everything that you’d want here.

What did you think of the thermopolium, dear Readers? Would you love to wet your taste buds with whatever the ancient Romans were offering to buy at the time? Which of the frescoes did you enjoy looking at the most? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section!


Tragic remains of Pompeii child who tried to shelter from volcano found at ‘grand baths’

The bones of Pompeii child were discovered in the ruined building site of the city’s central baths where they sought shelter from Mount Vesuvius’ eruption.

The magnificent spas were intended as a jewel in the crown of Pompeii, but were buried before they were completed by the volcano. The central baths were opened for modern visitors to the famous Roman town.

The marble pillars and blocks of the building remain where they were abandoned when the town was submerged in 79 AD by the pyroclastic flow from Vesuvius.

The child is thought to have died around the age of eight

Archeological director of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna, told the AFP that the architects who designed the baths were inspired by Emperor Nero’s thermal bath in rome. The rooms were bigger and lighter here, with pools of marble, ‘ however he said.

The Central Baths lie in an area that has been restored as part of the so-called Great Pompeii Project, which began restoring the city in 2022 after the collapse of the 2000-year-old ‘House of the Gladiators, which had sparked worldwide outrage.

Archaeologist Alberta Martellone and colleagues analysed the skeleton of the child unearthed from the bathhouse, who is thought to have been around 8–10 years old. ‘It was an emotionally charged dig,’ said Dr Martellone. ‘He or she was looking for shelter and found death instead.’

‘[The excavation] was also moving from an architectural point of view, because it is unusual to find a building so large — with such ample rooms — in this densely built up city. It transmits a sense of grandiosity,’ she added.

The construction site with its small skeleton, she concluded, ‘is a sign of life interrupted, on more than one level.’

The city’s original public bathhouses were smaller, darker and often overcrowded and the new complex would have provided a more luxurious setting for all those who could afford it — most citizens, but not slaves.

The bath house never got to be used by Pompeii’s ancient inhabitant
The central baths were opened to modern-day visitors to the famous ancient Roman town
Excavators found grand mosaic tiles and pillars

Recent digs at Pompeii have offered up several impressive finds, including an inscription uncovered last year that proved the city near Naples was destroyed after October 17, 79 AD — and not on  24 as had previously been thought.

In October previous year, archaeologists discovered a vivid fresco- depicting an armour-clad gladiator standing victorious as his wounded opponent gushed blood — that had been painted in a tavern believed to have housed fighters and prostitutes.

Along with the newly-unearthed baths, visitors to Pompeii can now visit a small house sporting a racy fresco depicting the Roman god Jupiter, disguised as a swan, impregnating the Greek mythological figure of Queen Leda.

Along with the newly-unearthed baths, visitors to Pompeii can now visit a small house sporting a racy fresco, pictured, depicting the Roman god Jupiter, disguised as a swan, impregnating the Greek mythological figure of Queen Leda

Across the cobbled Via del Vesuvio, the striking House of the Golden Cupids — believed to have belonged to the wealthy Gnaeus Poppaeus Habitus — has been reopened following renovation work on its mosaic floors.

While treasure hunters regularly pillaged Pompeii across the centuries — in hope of recovering precious jewels or valuable artefacts — whole areas have still yet to be explored by modern-day archaeologists.

Each discovery helps researchers understand not only what life was like in the ancient city, but also what happened in its dramatic final hours as the skies turned to fire and ash, Osanna said.

Although the partially EU-funded Grand Pompeii project will be winding up at the end of 2022, the Italian government will be providing 32 million euros (£27 million / $35 million) in order for digs at the ancient site to continue.

Although the partially EU-funded Grand Pompeii project will be winding up in previous year, the Italian government will be providing 32 million euros (£27 million / $35 million) in order for digs at the ancient site

The ‘biggest challenge’ to preserving the vulnerable UNESCO world heritage site are the violent weather events being caused by climate change, Professor Osanna said.

Each discovery helps researchers understand not only what life was like in the ancient city, but also what happened in its dramatic final hours as the skies turned to fire and ash, Osanna said

The ruined city in southern Italy is the second most visited tourist site in the country — after the Colosseum in Rome — with just under four million visitors in previous year.

Ancient dog-headed statue found during Roman road excavation

Ancient dog-headed statue found during Roman road excavation

Archaeologists in Rome recently unearthed an ancient terracotta statue with a dog’s head that was buried below an urban road. The statue, which is palm-size, shows a pointy-eared pup with long, wavy fur flowing over its head and neck.

The canine figurine may have been a decorative structure for a tomb’s rooftop.

It appears to be wearing a collar dangling a small emblem over its chest, and a circular object rests between its carved paws. 

Experts with the archaeology branch of the Italian Ministry of Culture were inspecting a site at Via Luigi Tosti in the city’s Appio Latino district, in preparation for a waterway replacement project.

They discovered the dog-headed statue about 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) below street level, among other funerary artifacts dating from the first century B.C. to the first century A.D., Roma Today reported on Jan. 1. Officials identified three mausoleums that were part of a larger burial complex on the Via Latina, an important ancient Roman road that is more than 2,000 years old.

“Once again, Rome shows important traces of the past in all its urban fabric,” representatives of the Special Superintendency of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Rome wrote on Instagram (translated from Italian).

In addition to the dog-headed statue, archaeologists at the site also discovered an intact ceramic funerary urn containing bones and the remains of a young man who was buried “in the bare earth,” according to the post.

Charred marks in one of the tombs hinted that there had been a fire, which may have led Roman citizens to abandon the burial complex, ArtNews reported.

While the dog statue superficially resembles carved objects that were added to sloping rooftops as part of drainage systems, it lacks any kind of opening for draining water and its purpose was likely ornamental, according to Roma 2022.

The Via Latina, which was built during the fourth century B.C., ran from Rome’s Porta Latina to the southeast for approximately 124 miles (200 kilometers), and it likely served as an important military highway, according to a study published in 2022 in the journal Papers of the British School at Rome. 

Other funerary buildings and catacombs that have been excavated along this once-major thoroughfare are open to the public as part of the Archaeological Park of the Tombs of the Via Latina in Rome.

Visitors can inspect underground tombs decorated with mosaic and frescoed scenes from ancient myths and legends, according to the park website.

A Grisly end:800-Year-Old Witch Burial Found In Italy

A Grisly end:800-Year-Old Witch Burial Found In Italy

These are the 800 year old remains of what archaeologists believe was a witch from the Middle Ages after seven nails were found driven through her jaw bone

Skeletons scattered around the site in Tuscany

The grim discovery was made during a dig on what is thought to be a ‘witches graveyard’ after another woman’s skeleton was found surrounded by 17 dice – a game which women were forbidden from playing 800 years ago. 

Experts say they believe the women are aged around 25 – 30 years old and were found buried in a simple shallow grave in the ground with no coffin or shroud. 

The macabre remains were found during a dig close to the sea at Piombino near Lucca in Italy’s Tuscany region and the woman had seven nails through her jaw as well as another 13 nails surrounding her skeleton. 

Archaeologist Alfonso Forgione, from L’Aquila University, who is leading the dig, is convinced that the women were suspected witches because of the circumstances in which they were buried. 

He said: ‘It’s a very unusual discovery and at the same time fascinating. I have never seen anything like this before. I’m convinced because of the nails found in the jaw and around the skeleton the woman was a witch.

Archaelogists believe this is the skeleton of a woman who was thought to be a witch

‘She was buried in bare earth, not in a coffin and she had no shroud around her either, intriguingly other nails were hammered around her to pin down her clothes. 

‘This indicates to me that it was an attempt to make sure the woman even though she was dead did not rise from the dead and unnerve the locals who were no doubt convinced she was a witch with evil powers. 

‘The second skeleton we have found was buried in a similar fashion but this time we found 17 dice around her – 17 is an unlucky number in Italy and also dice was a game that women were forbidden to play. 

‘The way the bodies were buried would seem to indicate some form of exorcist ritual and the remains will be examined to see if we can establish a cause of death for them.’ 

One puzzle that the archaeologists have been unable to explain is why the women if they were evil witches were buried in consecrated ground as the area is the site of an 800 year old church.

The skeletons were found with dice, which women were not allowed to play

He said: ‘The only possible explanation is that perhaps both women came from influential families and were not peasant class and so because of their class and connections were able to secure burial in consecrated Christian ground.’ 

The team is trying to find the burial place of the St Cerbonius, a bishop who died more than 1,500 years ago and who is the local patron saint of the area. 

Pictures traditionally show him having his feet licked by a bear after legend has it the animal refused to eat him after he was condemned to death for sheltering Roman soldiers by the Barbarians who had invaded Tuscany. 

Two years ago a Medieval woman’s skull was found near Venice with a stone driven through its mouth – which experts said was the traditional way of dealing with vampires and preventing them from rising from the dead.