Rome (AFP)

Two gladiators at the end of a fight, one is victorious and the other falls, bloodied ... A new fresco was discovered on the archaeological site of Pompeii, said Friday the Italian Ministry of Culture.

Face to face are a "mirmillon" and a "Thrace", two types of gladiators with different armor, classic opponents of the arena of ancient Rome.

The first, gladium (short Roman sword) and scutum (large shield) in hand is wearing a wide-brimmed helmet, the crest and its horsehair plume, while the second, in the losing position, shield fallen to the ground has the body covered of blood.

The trapezoid-shaped fresco, measuring approximately 1.12 by 1.5 meters, was discovered during excavations in an ancient basement at the corner of the rue des Noces d'Argent (vicolo delle Nozze d Argento) and Balcons street (Vicolo dei Balconi), two of the cobblestone streets of the ancient, buried city.

Above the fresco, we can see what probably corresponds to the imprint of the staircase of this room which was to be a tavern twenty centuries ago with, on the upper floor, a dwelling occupied by the owners, or more likely, given the presence of gladiators, by prostitutes, says the ministry in a statement.

"A few years ago, the site of Pompeii was known around the world for its negative image: collapses, employee strikes and tourist queues under the sun," said Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini.

"Today, it is a welcoming site, with millions of additional tourists, but above all a site once again dedicated to research, as evidenced by the ongoing excavations.This new discovery shows that Pompeii is an inexhaustible mine of knowledge for archaeologists, "he added.

For Massimo Osanna, director of the excavations, quoted in the release, the interest of the fresco lies in "the realistic representation of injuries, such as the wrist and breast of the beaten gladiator, which lets the blood flow and wets his leggings" .

"We do not know the outcome of the fight, there could be death but also grace, the latter being suggested by the gesture of the hand made by the Thracian as to implore salvation".

Tourist site among the most visited of Italy, the ancient Roman city of Pompeii was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79. If the writings of Pliny the Younger date the catastrophe to August 24, 79, recent search find it rather in autumn of the same year.

© 2019 AFP