Almost 2000 years after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and its trapping of the city of Pompeii in time, archaeologists are still making discoveries in the ash-frozen city. They have recently found chariots, pieced together ancient frescoes, and even charted the genome of one of the frozen Pompeiians. Now, archaeologists have learned even more about the ill-fated city and roman life from a turtle they found in a Pompeiian home.
Before Vesuvius erupted, there had been an earthquake. Many homes and buildings were under reconstruction when the volcano erupted and trapped them all in time. In one of these homes, archaeologists recently found a pregnant Hermann’s tortoise. Archaeologists think that this tortoise was sheltering in a badly damaged home to give birth.
“This lets us reflect on Pompeii in this phase after the earthquake but before the eruption, when many homes were being rebuilt, the whole city was a construction site, and evidently some spaces were so unused that wild animals could roam, enter and try to lay their eggs,” said director of the Pompeii archaeological park, Gabriel Zuchtriegel.
This is not the first tortoise to be discovered in Pompeii, as it happens. This does, however, add to the growing research now being focused on the areas outside of the Pompeii urban center. And this discovery adds to “this mosaic of relations between culture and nature, community and environment that represents the history of ancient Pompeii” according to Zuchtriegel.