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Archaeology

Archaeologists uncover a street of balconies in Italy’s Pompeii

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 10:05am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2018, 10:05am

Archaeologists excavating an unexplored part of Italy’s volcanic ash-covered city of Pompeii have discovered a street of houses with intact balconies that were buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD.

Some of the balconies even had amphorae – the conical-shaped terra cotta vases that were used to hold wine and oil in ancient Roman times.

The culture ministry’s Pompeii authority announced the discovery Thursday. It said the balconies were a “complete novelty” for this part of the buried city, which hasn’t yet been fully excavated. A statement said the “Vicolo dei Balconi” (Alley of Balconies) will be restored and the area included in a tour open to the public.

The discovery was part of the Great Pompeii Project, which overall involves an area of about 66 hectares never properly explored before.

“The latest discovery concerns a 1,400-square-metre area that was never uncovered, although we have found traces of incomplete attempts of excavation carried out in the eighteenth century,” said director general of the Archaeological Park Massimo Osanna.

“This is the most interesting element: the four balconies are in a row, and appear very well preserved, not only with colours intact but with some furniture,” Osanna said.

Decorations included geometrical drawings of flowers and animals in “Pompeian” bright red.

“Their original hues are vivid, and not damaged by atmospheric agents nor changed by previous restoration works, since they were left buried until now,” Osanna said.

Balconies represented a true rarity in Pompeii.

Upper stores have seldom been found among the ruins of the ancient town, which was destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius volcano and buried under up to six metres of ash and volcanic rubble.