Construction site at ancient Pompeii

Ancient construction site found at Pompeii

Culture News

A recent discovery at a construction site in Pompeii has shed light on ancient building techniques and politics in the historic city. Archaeologists, excavating Pompeii, uncovered a house that was still under construction at the time of the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD.

Excavations in Region IX of Pompeii are shedding new light on Roman construction techniques, revealing insights into the bustling building activity in the ancient city. Recent findings at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii have unveiled evidence of a vibrant construction site within the ancient domus in Region IX, insula 10. Among the discoveries are various tools, stacked tiles, tuff bricks, and lime piles, all indicative of active construction work.

According to scholars, this construction site was operational until the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, which engulfed Pompeii. The excavation aims to address hydrogeological concerns along the boundary between excavated and unexcavated areas of the city, revealing the extensive impact of ancient construction activities across the entire insula block. Notably, the house with the bakery of Rustius Verus showcases tangible evidence of ongoing construction efforts.

Intriguingly, tally marks, likely indicating building site accounts, were discovered in the reception room adorned with a mythological painting. Additionally, construction tools ranging from plumb bobs for ensuring wall verticality to iron hoes for mortar preparation were unearthed in various rooms. The nearby houses also exhibit signs of extensive construction activity, evidenced by large stone rubble piles and materials for cocciopesto flooring.

Ancient building techniques

Collaborating with experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Archaeological Park of Pompeii analysed materials and construction techniques. They proposed a hypothesis involving hot mixing, where quicklime was pre-mixed with dry pozzolana, hydrated, and applied during construction, expediting the process. This innovative technique contrasts with traditional methods of slaking lime with water before mixing with sand and aggregates.

Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano expressed enthusiasm for ongoing excavations in Pompeii, emphasising the significance of uncovering new treasures. Director General for Museums Massimo Osanna highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of research in Pompeii, emphasizing its role in advancing knowledge of the ancient city.

Director of the Archaeological Park Gabriel Zuchtriegel underscored Pompeii’s significance in understanding Roman construction practices, particularly the use of cement.

“It is yet another example of how the small city of Pompeii makes us understand so many things about the great Roman Empire, not least the use of cement. Without cement, we would have neither the Colosseum, nor the Pantheon, nor the Baths of Caracalla. The excavations currently underway in Pompeii offer an opportunity to observe almost live how an ancient building site functioned,” said Park Director Gabriel Zuchtriegel.

He emphasised the potential for modern lessons in sustainability and material reuse from ancient building know-how. The ongoing excavations offer a glimpse into the ancient construction process, providing valuable insights into Pompeii’s rich history and heritage.

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