It has been almost 2,000 years since Mount Vesuvius erupted and claimed the city of Pompeii. Today, archaeologists are still uncovering secrets about what life was like in the ancient city. Researchers from the Smithsonian recently reported that they have excavated two homes in Regio V, a 54-acre area north of the Pompeii Archaeological Park. You can now tour those homes virtually through the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities.
The video is a little over seven minutes long and features footage that was captured by drones. It shows the homes and surrounding ruins with commentary from park director Massimo Osanna explaining what the viewer is seeing and who might have lived there. Osanna’s commentary is in Italian, but you can read the English transcript.
The homes are both modest, private residences that a middle class family most likely lived in. Both homes border the Vicolo dei Balconi or “Alley of the Balconies.” The first house is fittingly called “House With the Garden,” as excavators discovered that one of the rooms was actually a garden. Researchers were able to find the outlines of flowerbeds and even made casts of plant roots. Paleobotanists will use these casts to try to identify what plants grew there.
In addition to the garden, the house featured paintings of classic deities like Venus, Adonis, and Hercules. “House With the Garden” also preserved the remains of its residents. In total, 11 victims, mostly women and children, likely took shelter within the home while men searched for escape routes.
“House of Orion” lies across the street. It is named for two mosaics that depict the story of Orion, a Greek huntsman whom the gods transformed into the constellation that bears his name.
“The owner of the house must have been greatly attracted to this myth, considering it features in two different rooms in which two different scenes of the myth are depicted,” Osanna says in the commentary. “It is a small house which has proved to be an extraordinary treasure chest of art.”