The tomb of Marcus Venerius Secundio, an emancipated slave, discovered at Porta Sarno with mummified human remains.
The remains of Marcus Venerius Secundio were uncovered in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Secundio was a former slave who rose through the social ranks.
He lay in a tomb at the necropolis of Porta Sarno, which was one of the main entrance gates into the city. Experts believe the remains date back decades before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 destroyed the city.
Best preserved human remains in Pompeii
Archaeologists said the discovery was unusual because cremation was the usual method for deceased adults during Roman times.
The remains are described as the best-preserved ever discovered in Pompeii. They include some of Secundio’s white hair and a partially visible ear.
We still need to understand whether the partial mummification of the deceased is due to intentional treatment or not” explains Professor Llorenç Alapont of the University of Valencia.
A glass urn with the name of a woman, Novia Amabilis, possibly Secundio’s wife, was also in the tomb.
“Pompeii never ceases to amaze,” said Dario Franceschini, Italy’s culture minister.
Slave to good social position
Secundio was a slave and the custodian of ancient Pompeii’s Temple of Venus. After being freed from slavery, he joined a college of priests in charge of a form of emperor worship.
An inscription dedicated to Secundio on a marble slab found at the top of the tomb makes references to theatre performances in Pompeii conducted in Greek.
Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the director of Pompeii archaeological park, said the inscription was “the first clear evidence of performances at Pompeii in the Greek language”.
“That performances in Greek were organised is evidence of the lively and open cultural climate which characterised ancient Pompeii,” added Zuchtriegel.
The excavations in the Porta Sarno necropolis area are a joint project between Pompeii archaeological park and the European University of Valencia.