Ancient Pompeii, before being buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, was a bustling city dealing with the aftermath of the massive earthquake that had damaged and destroyed many homes seventeen years earlier.

Andreas Rossman

Freelance writer in the feuilleton.

  • Follow I follow

The domus on the representative main street Via dell'Abbondanza, sumptuously decorated with mosaic floors and wall paintings, was also in ruins, and since the owner did not want to rebuild it for reasons unknown, the property was later used for the expansion of the Stabian thermal baths.

Before that, however, according to the findings of an excavation campaign funded by the DFG, it had been fallow for a long time, and the most recent discovery made here by archaeologists from the Free University of Berlin and the University of Naples L'Orientale can present a surprising witness: A turtle had got into the invade abandoned rooms and dig a shelter undisturbed.

The remains of the four-foot-long reptile, which grows to eight to eight inches when fully grown, were revealed among piles of rubble that had been piled up before the disused workshop was reopened.

It's not the first tortoise to appear in Pompeii, but not roaming a garden is remarkable.

According to the anthropologist and bioarchaeologist Valeria Amoretti, the animal “failed to lay the egg in a protected corner and may have caused death”.

Gabriel Spitzriegel, the director of the Archaeological Park, speaks of an important find "that opens a window to the last years of the city's life", in which its ecosystem changed: "Obviously not all the houses have been rebuilt, and even central areas of the Cities were rarely frequented, so they became habitats for wild animals;

at the same time, the expansion of the thermal baths testifies to the great confidence with which Pompeii took off after the earthquake, only to be destroyed in a single day.”