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    New Pompeii finds highlight middle-class life in doomed city

    ROME (AP) -A trunk with its lid left open. A wooden dishware closet, its shelves caved in. Three-legged accent tables topped by decorative bowls. These latest discoveries by archaeologists are enriching knowledge about middle-class lives in Pompeii before Mount Vesuvius’ furious eruption buried the ancient Roman city in volcanic debris.

    Pompeii’s archaeological park, one of Italy’s top tourist attractions, announced the recent finds on Saturday. Its director Gabriel Zuchtriegel said the excavation of rooms in a domus, or home, first unearthed in 2018 had revealed precious details about the domestic environment of ordinary citizens of the city, which was destroyed in 79 AD.

    In past decades, excavation largely concentrated on sumptuous, elaborately frescoed villas of the Pompeii’s upper-class residents. But archaeology activity in the sprawling site has increasingly focussed on the lives of the middle class as well as of servants and others.

    “In the Roman empire, there was an ample chunk of the population that struggled with their social status and for whom ‘daily bread’, was anything but a given,” Zuchtriegel said.

    “A vulnerable class during political crises and food shortages, but also ambitious about climbing the social ladder.”

    The finds unveiled include furnishings and household objects in the domus, which was dubbed the House of the Larario for an area of a home devoted to domestic spirits known as lares. The home unearthed in 2018 has one in the courtyard.

    Zuchtriegel noted that while the courtyard also had an exceptionally well-adorned cistern, “evidently, the (financial) resources weren’t enough to decorate the five rooms of the home”. One room had unpainted walls and an earthen floor apparently used for storage.

    An archaeologist works on the site of a new discovery in the ancient city of Pompeii. PHOTO: AP
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