Pompeii archaeologists find 'sorcerer's treasure trove', including fertility charms

Elias Hubbard
August 14, 2019

Mount Vesuvius, one of the world's most risky volcanoes, destroyed the city of Pompeii, a city south of Rome, in A.D. Most of the citizens of Pompeii did not die from the lava flow. The cloud surged over the city, killing its residents wherever they were, and burying them in ash, preserving their final moments.

Because the city was buried so quickly by the volcanic ash, the site is a well-preserved snapshot of life in a Roman city.

According to Italian news outlet Ansa, archaeologists discovered the various artifacts inside a wooden box that had decomposed, leaving just the bronze hinges behind, preserved in the volcanic plume.

The rich trove of artifacts all seemed to be related to the female world and consisted of items which may have been worn or used to ward off bad luck and promote fertility.

It includes two mirrors, several pieces of a necklace, pieces of bronze, bone and amber as well as a human figure and several phallic amulets.

He said the team had discovered a room with ten victims of the eruption, including women and children, in the house and they were trying to establish whether they were a family by using DNA analysis.

Osanna added that he believes it is possible the trinkets, which likely belonged to a female servant or slave, as opposed to the owner of the house, may were used for various rituals, including infertility and seduction. None of the artefacts was made of gold, much favoured by the wealthy of Pompeii.

They were found at the Casa del Giardino, the same area where an inscription was recently uncovered that made historians change the date of when they think the Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Pompeii took place, shifting it from August 24 to October 24 79 AD.

The house itself would have belonged to a man of high status, confirmed by the quality of the amber and glass beads found in the trove, archaeologists say.

"Perhaps the precious box belonged to one of these victims", Mr Osanna speculated.

Mr Osanna said the objects contained iconography that invoked fortune, fertility and protection against bad luck.

The scientists said they plan to study the numerous pendants, such as those shaped as an ear, a closed fist, a skull, a small penis, a scarab or beetle, and one in the figure of Harpocrates, the Greek god of silence, secrets, and confidentiality, to better understand their meaning.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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