Monday, December 31, 2018

Celebrating the 'Year Of #Pompeii'

This opening paragraph in Forbes recently caught our eye:
New excavations have been ongoing at Pompeii for a few years, largely related to conservation work and other attempts to protect the UNESCO world heritage site from both looters and the environment, but 2018 has produced dozens of visually striking artifacts and skeletons that suggest 2018 was the 'Year of Pompeii.'

The ancient town is best remembered for being destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD - some 19-hundred years ago. Some of the archaeological interests that surfaced this year include:

  • A skeleton of a child discovered in one of the central baths complexes (Feb.).
  • The skeleton of an adult man was found, missing a head, with a giant block in its place (Spring).
  • Remains of several horses were found in a stable (May, Dec.).
  • Half a dozen human skeletons suggest a close-knit family may have waited too long to flee and ended up trapped together during the eruption (Oct.).
Forbes also notes most controversial of the finds was a charcoal inscription or graffito that lists the eruption date of Oct. 17 (more):
"Given the generally ephemeral nature of charcoal markings, the team interprets it as having been made quite recently before the eruption, which is usually noted as having occurred on Aug. 24. Although not a smoking gun by any means, even a two-month date change can mean new information for researchers working on botanical remains and ancient human and animal diseases."

Bellairs had some fun of his own with Pompeiian graffito back in his first book, Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies - specifically, the so-called "saint who ain't", Saint Floradora.

To paraphrase, in 1880 the remains of lettered tiles in Pompeii were found and "magically arrange[d] themselves" to form the word FLORADORA. Local priests assumed a martyr's tomb had been discovered and this was seemingly verified when a female skeleton was found nearby clutching a "moldered leather bag of coins". Scholars battled back and forth on who she was, what she was doing, and how ultimately how Flavius the Proud entered the picture.

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