New research in the ancient city of Pompeii has shown that the city’s cemeteries were “mixed-use developments“, meaning that not only were they the final resting place of the deceased, but they were also the final resting place of a lot of the population’s garbage too.
The 19th century excavators at Pompeii assumed that the excavated tombs filled with ancient refuse and garbage (as well as covered in graffiti) must have fallen into decline and disrepair almost two decades prior to the AD 79 catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius. They (and later excavators) theorized that Pompeii’s tombs were covered in garbage due, in part, to a powerful AD 62 earthquake at Pompeii and that the tombs were abandoned and neglected after the earthquake as the city must have been in decline and inhabitants focused on more pragmatic concerns..
It was a theory, according to Emmerson, that was likely adopted because the 19th century researchers working at Pompeii (as well as later excavators) would have found it unthinkable that cemeteries were places appropriate for tossing out the trash.
Story: M.B. Reilly, Physorg | Photo: Physorg