The remains of the Roman town of Pompeii destroyed by a volcanic eruption in AD79 continue to provide intriguing and unexpected insights into Roman life - from diet and health care to the gap between rich and poor.The most intriguing find was evidence of congenital syphilis, way before Columbus and his men went to the New World, which usually gets the blame for the disease being brought to Europe.
The basement storeroom under a large agricultural depot in the little suburb of Oplontis was full of pomegranates. To many of the Pompeiians trying to find shelter from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, it must have seemed strong and safe.
About 50 people took cover there. We know they did because archaeologists in the 1980s found their skeletons, well preserved.
They were overwhelmed by the volcanic debris and burning gases in the very place where they hoped they would be saved.
We know how these poor people died and we know what killed them. But these skeletons can also tell us fascinating things about how the people in Pompeii actually lived.
There are some very simple surprises.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Pompeii skeletons reveal secrets of Roman family life