Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

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Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Borgholio » 2015-09-24 08:21am

http://www.history.com/news/archaeologists-unearth-intact-pre-roman-tomb-in-pompeii?cmpid=Social_FBPAGE_HISTORY_20150923_240461611&linkId=17281603

It’s one of the most famous natural disasters in history. On August 24, 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted, sending floods of ash, pumice and other debris onto the city of Pompeii, located at the volcano’s southeastern base in the Campania region of Italy. By the next day, the eruption had buried the city and its terrified inhabitants under nearly 20 feet of debris, where they would remain frozen in layers of ash for the next 1,500 years. Now, a team of French archaeologists working in Pompeii has made a remarkable find: a perfectly preserved pre-Roman tomb dating to the 4th century B.C., when Pompeii was home to the Samnite people.

Historians believe the Oscan people, descendants of Campania’s Neolithic inhabitants, built the city of Pompeii in the 6th or 7th century B.C. The Samnites, an Italic tribe, conquered the Osci in the 5th century B.C., though the city likely came under Greek and Etruscan influence before that time. After bitter struggles with the Romans during the 4th century B.C., the Samnites fell under Roman control, but they rebelled along with other Italians against Rome in 89 B.C. The forces of Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla besieged Pompeii at that time, but they didn’t manage to conquer the city until 80 B.C., barely a century before the fateful eruption would destroy it.

Though the ruins of Pompeii were initially discovered at the end of the 16th century, full-scale excavations didn’t take begin until the mid-18th century. Early excavations of Pompeii and nearby towns launched the modern science of archaeology, and ongoing excavation and research projects at the site today still involve thousands of archaeologists and other experts. In addition, more than 2.5 million visitors tour Pompeii every year, making the ancient city Italy’s second-most popular attraction, after the Colosseum in Rome.

During a recent dig focusing on Pompeiian artisanship and economy, researchers from the French Jean Berard Centre in Naples in southern Italy stumbled on a striking new find near the Herculaneaum Gate, alongside the famous Villa of the Mysteries. The nearly intact tomb dated all the way back to the 4th century B.C., and contained the remains of an adult woman, between 35 and 40 years of age, along with a number of vases and clay jars known as amphoras. The researchers determined that the pottery came from various regions of Italy, indicating a robust trade between the Samnites and other Italic peoples on the peninsula. The scientists will analyze the contents of the amphoras in the weeks to come, but they are believed to include food, wine and cosmetics.

The tomb’s intact condition suggests that the Romans living in Pompeii prior to Vesuvius’ eruption knew of its existence and did not disturb it or build on top of it. In addition to looters and shoddy archaeological digs that damaged other tombs and artifacts in Pompeii, the Samnite tomb also survived the ravages of World War II, in spite of the fact that the area where it was found sustained particularly heavy Allied bombing during the conflict.

The newly discovered tomb is especially exciting because it dates to a period about which archaeologists know relatively little. According to Massimo Osanna, archaeological superintendent at Pompeii, identifying the materials the woman was buried with will not only give scholars a window into funerary practices of the time but “will show us much about the role of women in Samnite society.” Archaeologists will now explore the region surrounding the tomb, as such tombs are rarely found in isolation.

The Italian government appointed Osanna to oversee the Pompeii site two years ago, after a series of collapses sparked international outrage over the maintenance of the ancient city. In a statement, Osanna underlined the importance of the new find: “These excavations prove that the city of Pompeii is still alive and that we must preserve it as it continues to provide us with material for research.”
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Thanas » 2015-09-24 09:04am

Moved to proper forum. Pretty interesting find, because we know relatively little about the samnites.
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Lord Revan » 2015-09-24 09:28am

I have to agree with Thanas here, we know very little about the people who lived in that area before Rome came to be, relatively speaking ofc and people who are just intrested in History probably know even less then actual history majors.
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Borgholio » 2015-09-24 09:37am

I'm interested by the fact the Romans never disturbed the tomb. That implies they had some sort of respect for it. Did the Romans have a habit of respecting defeated enemies if they proved honorable?
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Thanas » 2015-09-24 09:39am

Borgholio wrote:I'm interested by the fact the Romans never disturbed the tomb. That implies they had some sort of respect for it. Did the Romans have a habit of respecting defeated enemies if they proved honorable?


Depends. But remember that the Romans did not really destroy local cultures. The population remained largely the same, though romanized. Why would the people living there destroy their own ancestors?
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Borgholio » 2015-09-24 10:12am

The population remained largely the same, though romanized. Why would the people living there destroy their own ancestors?


So when Rome conquered an area they didn't try to uproot the culture, they just applied local laws and gave them a fair bit of autonomy to keep living as they used to? Was that to help prevent rebellion?
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2015-09-24 10:24am

Honestly, anything like this is an interesting find, but this one in particular sounds fascinating. The article isn't kidding when they say not much is known of the period - I thought Pompeii had always been a Roman city, had never heard of the Samnites, and the civil war with Sulla and so on is just a name to me.
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby LaCroix » 2015-09-24 11:17am

Borgholio wrote:
The population remained largely the same, though romanized. Why would the people living there destroy their own ancestors?


So when Rome conquered an area they didn't try to uproot the culture, they just applied local laws and gave them a fair bit of autonomy to keep living as they used to? Was that to help prevent rebellion?


Their lawbook, their tax code. Comply, and you will be left to do whatever you want in your spare time.
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Broomstick » 2015-09-24 11:25am

Thanas wrote:
Borgholio wrote:I'm interested by the fact the Romans never disturbed the tomb. That implies they had some sort of respect for it. Did the Romans have a habit of respecting defeated enemies if they proved honorable?

Depends. But remember that the Romans did not really destroy local cultures. The population remained largely the same, though romanized. Why would the people living there destroy their own ancestors?

>cough< several thousand years of Egyptian tomb robbers >cough<

I think there are some cultural factors at work in whether or not a burial is likely to be disturbed. (Also, putting a lot of gold and valuable objects into a tomb with the dead probably ups the chances as well)
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby SpottedKitty » 2015-09-24 09:21pm

Borgholio wrote:So when Rome conquered an area they didn't try to uproot the culture, they just applied local laws and gave them a fair bit of autonomy to keep living as they used to?

That's the way it worked in Britain, from the evidence found so far. There seems to have been a fair bit of "look at all the neat stuff Doing It Our Way can give you" directed at the local chiefs. A quick rendition of the "What did the Romans ever do for us?" scene from Life Of Brian would not be amiss... :twisted: :roll: :wink:

There's also a lot of evidence of "Romanised Britons" — houses built on top of each other in increasingly Romanised styles, British gods adopted into the Roman pantheon, towns rebuilt and reorganised in the Roman fashion, graves of wealthy Britons with lots of Roman trappings, etc. It all seems to have begun fairly quickly, within a couple of decades of the Claudian occupation.

Of course, this approach didn't always work, there were always a few (or more than a few) bolshie locals trying to kick out the furriners, but big chunks of Britain were pretty thoroughly Romanised until the legions were pulled back hundreds of years later.
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Thanas » 2015-09-25 01:44am

Broomstick wrote:
Thanas wrote:
Borgholio wrote:I'm interested by the fact the Romans never disturbed the tomb. That implies they had some sort of respect for it. Did the Romans have a habit of respecting defeated enemies if they proved honorable?

Depends. But remember that the Romans did not really destroy local cultures. The population remained largely the same, though romanized. Why would the people living there destroy their own ancestors?

>cough< several thousand years of Egyptian tomb robbers >cough<


Well yeah, when "burial decorations" is the largest item in your annual budget, you are bound to attract some robbers.

I think there are some cultural factors at work in whether or not a burial is likely to be disturbed. (Also, putting a lot of gold and valuable objects into a tomb with the dead probably ups the chances as well)


Undoubtedly some Roman tombs were robbed as well (and those caught buried alive iirc). But what Borgholio is talking about is a conqueror coming in and destroying local culture and their remains.

Eternal_Freedom wrote:had never heard of the Samnites

They were perhaps the only enemy of Rome before the migration period which defeated them on a regular basis. They are also the one of the few enemies of Rome to force through a permanent, massive change in the way the Romans were waging warfare. Hannibal gave the Romans fits. The Samnites humiliated them.

Eternal_Freedom wrote: I thought Pompeii had always been a Roman city, had never heard of the Samnites, and the civil war with Sulla and so on is just a name to me.


Keep in mind that the so-called Samnite uprising against Rome might be a huge propaganda effect. Sulla had a lot of the society against him and it served him well to declare his opponents were former subjugated tribes rising again because it excused him from killing Romans. "No no, you see, those enemies of mine are actually non-assimilated ancient enemies of ours". Many historians doubt this. I myself believe that these had been fully assimilated Romans for over a century at that point.
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Re: Intact Pre-Roman tomb found in Pompeii

Postby Replicant » 2015-10-11 09:01pm

Thanas wrote:They were perhaps the only enemy of Rome before the migration period which defeated them on a regular basis. They are also the one of the few enemies of Rome to force through a permanent, massive change in the way the Romans were waging warfare. Hannibal gave the Romans fits. The Samnites humiliated them.


The Samnites were the ones who explained to the Romans the flaws in the hoplite and phalanx system of battle right?

Can you recommend any decent books, I have never found anything about the Three Samnite Wars, though I am sure the biggest problem is the sheer lack of material.


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