The partially mummified remains of a former Pompeii slave were discovered in a tomb outside the city center.
According to the Live Science website, the tomb was discovered in the Necropolis of Porta Sarno, which lies outside the city walls of Pompeii. The inscriptions on the grave show that the remains are of a man named Marcus Venerius Secundio, who was in his 60s.
At some point in his life, this individual would have been enslaved, but later he was freed and eventually gained some status, becoming a wealthy priest who conducted rituals in Latin and Greek.
In a statement, the director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, says that these inscriptions are the first direct evidence that these Greek rituals actually took place in the Italian city.
“It is the first clear evidence of these performances conducted in the Greek language in Pompeii, which there were already suspicions based on indirect indicators. (…) The fact that these performances in Greek were organized is a testament to the open and lively cultural climate that characterized “this ancient city, he declared.
Secundio’s remains were in a tomb whose paint traces show that it was painted with images of green plants on a blue background. The body was placed in an alcove and was partially mummified, as it is still possible to see some hair and an ear.
Archaeologists also discovered pieces of cloth and two glass bottles, called “unguentaria”, which are often found in Roman and Greek cemeteries and which contained the oils or perfumes used in funeral rites.
Cremation was the most common method among the inhabitants of Pompeii, so archaeologists cannot answer why Secundio’s remains were not cremated. Furthermore, they also don’t know if his body has naturally mummified, or if it has been previously treated to prevent decomposition.
“We need to figure out whether the partial mummification is due to an intentional treatment or not. The analysis of the fabric can give us more information because we know, for example, that certain fabrics, such as asbestos [or asbestos], were used in embalming,” said Llorenç Alapont, an archaeologist at the University of Valencia, in the same note.