Pompeii has surely given us incredible archeological discoveries and a glimpse into the past, preserved for millennia by the violent explosion of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, when the city was a sophisticated and thriving city of the Roman Empire. The latest surprise out of Pompeii is a pregnant land tortoise that has been nearly perfectly preserved, along with the egg that she was carrying, but never laid. Archeologists found it underneath the floor of a shop in Via dell’Abbondanza, located in the Stabian Baths.
To add to this exciting discovery is also that of a luxury residence that researchers at the Università Orientale of Naples, the Freie Universität in Berlin and the University of Oxford are investigating, which, following the earthquake of 62 AD, was destroyed, and annexed to the Stabian Baths.
According to the Pompeii park’s director, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, in a statement to Italy News24, this discovery is one “that opens a window on the last years of the city in which the whole of Pompeii had been transformed into a large, pulsating building site.” As such, the ecosystem of the park also changed, inviting in animals of various species that would settle on the site. This would explain the tortoise attempting to lay her egg underneath the shop’s floor. The Italian minister of culture, Dario Franceschini, stated that “Pompeii is a treasure trove of history that fascinates the world.”
Archeologists have so far uncovered what remained of the luxury home before it was annexed to the baths: mosaic tapestries with architectural drawings, plinths in polychrome marble, original floorings and decorations, as well as fragments of wall paintings that were in vogue during the first century B.C. According to Marco Giglio, an archeologist at the Orientale University of Naples, a votive pit was found with what was left of burned wood, a small lantern dating from the first century BC, alongside an earthen vase containing offerings to the gods exactly in the same space where the tortoise was found: “This was a very widespread practice in the Roman world,” stated Giglio to Italian news agency ANSA, adding that it is from this “that we got proof that this house was actually built in the first half of the first century BC.”