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Great Archaeological Finds- A Wicker Basket in Pompeii

Aug 30, 2008
Most people in the world have heard of Pompeii, Italy, the site of one of the worst natural disasters of ancient times. One of the greatest finds in the history of the city was made in July, 2005, when an archaeologist checking on the progress of a new motorway being built in the area dug up the remains of a man lying next into an ancient Roman basket containing silverware. While the silverware and numerous articles such as pottery and paintings have been commonly found amongst the ruins, this was on of the few times that a Roman basket had been unearthed, although the container and its contents were somewhat melted together.

To understand the significance of this find, you must first understand what happened in Pompeii on August 24, 79 A.D. The city was a busy seaport and a summer resort area for wealthy Romans who wished to get away from the demands of living in Rome itself and was located at the base of Mount Vesuvius, an active yet mostly quiet volcano. Estimations of the population at the time of the disaster vary, although most experts agree that thee probably approximately 20,000 people living in the area at the time. In the past few years, earthquakes were a common occurrence, so when the ground began to shake on that fateful August day, most of the residence ignored it (much as Californians do today). Suddenly, Vesuvius awoke and began to erupt.

The people became panicked as they tried to reach safety. While many fled to the seaport, others took their chances trying to journey overland. Still other individuals sought shelter within their homes, not realizing that they would remain there through eternity. The high intensity heat and the amount of ash in the air soon eliminated anyone who had remained in the area.

The volcano eventually buried the town with layers of ash and pumice, where it remained buried for 1700 years, until it was rediscovered in 1748 and excavation was begun. The buildings were the first to be exposed, as well as statues, fountains, and gardens. As the archaeologists began to explore deeper into the structures and streets, they began to uncover the heartbreaking remains of the residents of this ancient city, laying sprawled face down or, as in one case, appearing to be sitting and praying. It seems that the ash had formed a casing around the individuals that had been buried in the eruption. Although their remains had long since decomposed, the outlines of their bodies were still visible, some of these even showing the looks of suffering that was apparent on these poor souls' faces.

As well as finding the inhabitants' bodies, the archaeologists found a treasure trove of daily utensils and household items that could give them an idea of what daily life was like 2000 years ago. Most of the artifacts that remained were made of metal, marble or other materials that could easily withstand the heat of the molten lava that was exuding from Vesuvius.

It is for this reason that the Roman wicker basket that was found was so exciting. It would seem that the man who was found lying next to it was trying to escape Pompeii's devastation and had crawled underneath a stairwell with his valuables. The sheltered design of this area helped to protect the basket from being destroyed. Although it is not in perfect shape, the archaeologists are treating the fibers with different chemicals to preserve that material that it was made of, with the hopes of displaying this rare container with the rest of the Pompeii exhibit in the near future.

Pompeii is one of the largest tourist attractions in all of Italy. If you wish to get a peek into the lives of ancient Romans as well as to experience the emotional aspects of the disaster, it is a trip that you will not soon forget.
About the Author
We have baby gift baskets that are cute and practical. Perfect for the newborn and new moms. For more information, visit this article on baby gift baskets.
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