Spanish archaeologists have discovered a tomb with mummified remains in Pompeii. The surviving tombstone made it possible to restore the name and social status of the buried. The find is reported on the site of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.
In ancient times, necropolises were located along the roads outside the city walls. Pompeii is no exception: almost all the gates of the city are full of streets of various graves. The Sarno Necropolis is located behind the Sarno Gate - this is the modern name given in the direction of the road from the gate towards the Sarno River. The ancient cemetery is separated from Pompeii by a railway line, so it is not yet available for inspection by visitors to the archaeological park. But the leadership of Pompeii is already working on the technical and legal possibility of including the necropolis in an area accessible to tourists.
Archaeologists from the University of Valencia, led by Professor Llorenç Alapont, discovered a well-preserved stone tomb during the excavation of the necropolis at the Sarnos Gate of Pompeii. According to experts, it belongs to the last decades of the city's life. The inscription on the marble slab, fixed on the facade of the tomb, contained the name of the deceased - Mark Venus Secundius. In addition, there are traces of painting on the walls of the tomb - green plants on a blue background.
Tomb of Mark Venus Secundius at the Sarnos Gate
Marble inscription on the facade of the tomb
The name of Marcus Venus Secundius is also known from the wax tablets of the famous Pompeian jurist Cecilius Yukund. The inscription gives additional information about him: a public slave and a kustod (kustod) - the caretaker or watchman of the Pompeian temple of Venus. With the passage of time, Venus was freed and, being a freedman, became a member of the collegium of the Augustals - the only priestly collegium available to former slaves. In the Roman Empire, the Augustal priests served the cult of the imperial family. In Pompeii, their "diocese" included three temples - the Temple of the Public Lares and the Temple of Vespasian at the Forum and the Temple of Fortune Augustus.
The new director of the Pompey Archaeological Park, Gabriel Zuchtrigel, considers the mention in the inscription that Mark Venus Secundius gave "Greek and Latin games for four days" especially remarkable. This means that he organized theatrical performances in two languages. And this remark is the only written evidence that performances in Greek took place in Pompeii, which historians knew about from indirect references. This fact (like the monumental tomb), according to archaeologists, shows how rich freedmen could become.
Skull of Mark Venus Secundius with remnants of hair and preserved ear
Experts considered the burial itself even more interesting. In the enclosure of the tomb are two burial urns, one of which contains the ashes of a woman named Novia Amabilés. Her name is found on an anthropomorphic gravestone nearby. It is impossible to say who she could have with Venus.
Anthropomorphic stele with the name of Novia Amabilles
Despite the fact that cremation was the most common funeral rite among the ancient Romans, the Augustal Venus was buried in a small chamber measuring 1, 6 × 2, 4 meters. Experts call this practice inhumation, and, according to them, the skeleton of Venus can be considered one of the best-preserved skeletons of the ancient Pompeians.An initial analysis of the bones, carried out by the anthropologist of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, Valeria Amoretti, showed that the Augustal died at the age of more than 60 years - quite serious for the ancient Romans and especially a former slave. The hermetically sealed environment of the burial chamber provided special conditions for the preservation of the body - the anthropologist discovered strands of hair and a mummified ear. Whether the mummification is deliberate or accidental, at this stage of research, it is impossible to unequivocally decide. But archaeologists are pinning their hopes on fragments of textiles found in the tomb. Since, according to Professor Alapon, it is known that fabrics of a certain type and specially made drugs were used in mummification, analysis of the finds can help in establishing the fact of mummification or its absence.
The remains of Marcus Venus Secundus were sent to the Applied Research Laboratory of Pompeii, where they will be subjected to further research.
In the material "Tomb of the Unknown Benefactor" we talked about another monumental Pompeian tomb, whose four-meter marble epitaph made it possible to illuminate many moments in the history of Pompeii.