Pompeii Reveals Ancient Rituals: 13 Terracotta Figurines Discovered

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Ancient Artifacts Unearthed in Pompeii.

The discovery of 13 terracotta figurines during an archaeological excavation in Pompeii has unveiled a fascinating glimpse into the ancient rituals and artistic expressions of the Roman era. These figurines, found in a domus (a type of house) near the House of Leda and the Swan, provide valuable insights into the cultural and religious practices of the time.

Historical Context and Tradition

The tradition of creating nativity scenes, known for their religious and cultural significance in more recent history, finds a distant echo in these ancient artifacts. While the tradition of the nativity scene is more modern, the discovery of these figurines indicates a practice of arranging ritualistic items in domestic spaces during ancient times.

Discovery and Description

Unearthed from a room bordering the House of Leda and the Swan, these terracotta figures emerged from beneath pumice at a significant height above the floor, suggesting they were placed on a shelf or similar structure. Measuring approximately 15 cm in height, the collection includes various representations, such as human figures, a walnut, an almond, a clay rooster head, and a glass pine cone. Details of these findings are documented in the E-journal of the Pompeii excavations (http://pompeiisites.org/e-journal-degli-scavi-di-pompei/).

Significance and Interpretation

The room housing these figurines was likely the atrium of the house, adorned with painted walls and frescoes. Preliminary studies suggest that some figurines may relate to the myth of Cybele and Attis, symbolizing the life cycle of the seasons and the fertility of the earth, particularly resonant with the spring equinox.

Ongoing Excavation Efforts

The current excavation is part of a broader initiative, the Great Pompeii Project, which aims to enhance the understanding and accessibility of this historical site. This project encompasses not only the House of Leda, discovered between 2018 and 2019, but also adjacent houses to its north and south.

Additional Discoveries

In the course of these excavations, another room within the House of Leda was uncovered, revealing exquisite frescoes featuring roundels with elegantly depicted female faces.

Objective of the Excavation

The primary goal of this excavation is to stabilize and safeguard the edge of the site, which demarcates the boundary between the already exposed structures and areas yet to be excavated. This effort is crucial for the preservation of the buildings and their decorative elements, ultimately paving the way for future public access to this rich historical complex.


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