Tuesday 14 June 2011

Newspaper article: Archaeologists find new gems in ancient Roman waste

From yesterday's ANSA:
Archaeologists find new gems in ancient Roman waste
750 sacks of human excrement recovered from Herculaneum

Archaeologists are discovering new insights into how the Romans lived in Herculaneum 2,000 years ago by what they left behind - in the ancient city's sewers.

Herculaneum, which lies on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii, Stabiae and other nearby towns in 79 AD.

Specialists involved in the Herculaneum Conservation Project have excavated the ancient sewers of the city and uncovered the largest deposit of organic material ever found in the Roman world.

Layers of excrement that lay buried by volcanic mud for centuries are giving experts new clues about the diet and health of the city's ancient inhabitants.

Project manager Jane Thompson told ANSA the team has recovered some 750 large sacks of human excrement.

"Studying this waste and linking it to the inhabitants or workers in the buildings above is allowing us to learn more about their lives, the types of food people ate and the work they did," Thompson said. "This is even more unusual because it emerged from a conservation project".

 Read the full story here.

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