Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a tortoise and its egg that was buried in volcanic ash after the eruption in 79 AD in Pompeii.
The animal’s remains were found buried under the clay floor of a storehouse and probably died before Vesuvius erupted.
The mysterious find came to light during excavations of an area that had been devastated by a violent earthquake in 62 AD and was subsequently absorbed into a public bath house.
An anthropologist who works at the site, Valeria Amoretti, said “It had dug itself a burrow where it could lay its egg, but failed to do so, which may have caused its death.”
The general director of Pompeii, Gabriel Zuchtriegel said, “It’s not the first tortoise to be found in Pompeii, an important focus of current excavations and research concerns the organic and agricultural materials found outside Pompeii’s urban center”.
Presence of the tortoise Pompeii
In the 1st century BC, the site was originally an opulent home with refined mosaics and wall paintings. Archaeologists are not sure why the building was not restored but was rather taken over by the Stabian baths.
Zuchtriegel said both the presence of the tortoise in the city and the abandonment of the sumptuous domus illustrate the extent of the transformations after the earthquake in 62 AD.
He further said, “Evidently not all the houses were rebuilt and areas, even central ones, of the city were scarcely frequented to the extent that they became the habitat of wild animals.”
“At the same time, the expansion of the baths is evidence of the great confidence with which Pompeii restarted after the earthquake, only to be crushed in a single day in AD 79,” Zuchtriegel said.