A perfectly-preserved ancient shrine, frozen in time for around 2,000 years has been discovered in the ancient city of Pompeii.
Following the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the altar space was perfectly preserved thanks to volcanic ash.
Recently published photographs of the archaeological site show the discovery made by archaeologists.
Stunning red-colored walls, paintings of bulls as well as enchanted garden scenes of exotic birds, trees, and snakes show the exquisite art that decorated walls of Pompeii thousands of years ago.
Described by archaeologists as ‘exceptional’ the ancient shrine is known as a lararium. In Roman times lararia were referred to as altar spaces located at the entrance of homes where offerings and prayers were made to the gods. A lararium, properly speaking, is a shrine for the Lares.
Through excavations, archaeologists are hoping to learn more about the people that inhabited the city thousands of years ago before devastating events covered the city in volcanic ash.
The newly discovered wall was described as a ‘marvelous and enigmatic room that now must be studied at length,’ by Massimo Osanna, head of the Pompeii archaeological site.
The room where the lararium was found has not yet been fully excavated by experts. However, archaeologists say that the lararia is embedded in the wall of a small house. It features paintings of Roman gods key to household rituals.
“Every house had a lararium of some kind, but only the wealthiest people could have afforded a lararium inside a special chamber with a raised pool and sumptuous decorations,” said Professor Ingrid Rowland, a historian at the University of Notre Dame speaking to the New York Times.
Archaeologists participating in the excavation say they’ve encountered beneath the shrine, an altar topped with traces of offerings made by people of ancient Pompeii more than 2,000 years ago.
The altar, say, archaeologists, is decorated with intricately painted eggs. This, according to experts, was a roman sign of fertility.
Furthermore, the burnt remains discovered on the site most likely were food offerings also related to fertility, Mr. Osanna said.
The colors on the walls have been saved by volcanic ash and rocks from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which kept out light and water for nearly two millenniums.