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Frescoes Uncovered in a ‘Black Room’ Banquet Hall at Pompeii


Preserved frescoes from the ancient Roman city Pompeii have been revealed as part of a recently excavated banquet hall on site, the archaeological park announced Thursday.

Frescoes lining the room’s painted black walls depicted mythological characters and subjects from the Trojan War. In one scene, Paris, the prince of Troy, stands before the Spartan princess Helen. In another, the god Apollo stands with a lyre in an attempt to seduce the Trojan priestess Cassandra, who ultimately rejects his offer and is doomed to proclaim prophecies that go unbelieved.

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The remains of a former tuna factory in Vendicari, Italy, 2022.

Guests would have been entertained in the “Black Room”, as it has been dubbed, in the evening, where in the shimmering light burning lamps would have brought the paintings to life. The well-preserved mosaic floor, by contrast, was comprised of more than one million white tiles.

“The walls were painted black to prevent the smoke from the oil lamps being seen on the walls. People would meet to dine after sunset; the flickering light of the lamps had the effect of making the images appear to move, especially after a few glasses of good Campanian wine,” Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the Director of the Archaeological park of Pompeii, said in a statement. 

“The mythological couples provided ideas for conversations about the past and life, only seemingly of a merely romantic nature. In reality, they refer to the relationship between the individual and fate: Cassandra who can see the future but no one believes her, Apollo who sides with the Trojans against the Greek invaders, but being a god, cannot ensure victory, Helen and Paris who, despite their politically incorrect love affair, are the cause of the war, or perhaps merely a pretext. Who knows? These days, Helen and Paris represent us all: each day we can choose whether to focus solely on our own private lives or whether to explore the way our lives are entangled with the broad sweep of history, thinking for example, not just of war and politics, or of the environment, but also of the atmosphere we are creating in our society, communicating with others in real time and on social networks”, he continued.

The room is just one of a larger house within a residential and commercial block in region nine, which has been undergoing archaeological excavation over the last year. The house featured a reception room and garden. Next door was a bakery with a shrine and a laundromat.

Skeletons belonging to a child and two adults from the 79 CE eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which lead to the Pompeii’s demise and preservation in ash, were previously found in the bakery. They may have been slaves crushed by falling stones during the eruption.

Archaeologists believe that the house, bakery, and laundromat were owned by the same person. They believe these areas were undergoing renovation due to the presence of roof tiles, pots of lime mortar, and trowels that were left behind.

On walls and millstones, experts found the initials “ARV” short for Aulus Rustius Verus, who was a wealthy politician in Pompeii, reported the BBC. They believe he may have been the building’s owner.



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