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Pompeii Skeleton Proves Greek Culture Was Thriving in Ancient Rome

Pompeii Greek theaterThe skeleton was discovered in Pompeii. Credit: Pompeii Archaeological Park

A skeleton discovered recently in Pompeii, the Roman city which was completely destroyed after the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in 79 AD, proves that Greek culture was thriving in ancient Rome.

The discovery was made in the necropolis of Porta Sarno, an area not yet open to the public that is located in the east of Pompeii’s urban center.

A skull bearing tufts of white hair and part of an ear, as well as bones and fragments of fabric, were found in the tomb. It has been described as “one of the best-preserved skeletons ever found in the ancient city.”

Pompeii Greek theaterHair and part of the ear can still be seen on the skull of Marcus Venerius Secundio, the most well-preserved burial discovered at Pompeii to date. Credit: Pompeii Archaeological Park

An inscription on the dead man’s tomb identifies him as Marcus Venerius Secundio; incredibly, it appears to indicate that he helped stage performances of Greek plays. It says the deceased “gave Greek and Latin ludi,” or performances.

Performances in Greek at Pompeii

“It is the first clear evidence of performances at Pompeii in the Greek language,” Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, said in a statement. “That performances in Greek were organized is evidence of the lively and open cultural climate which characterized ancient Pompeii.”

Grecian Delight supports GreecePompeii GreekThe fresco depicting an ancient Greek myth discovered in Pompeii. Credit: Pompeii Archaeological Park

The fresco depicts the ancient Greek myth of Leda and the Swan. This is an erotic myth in which the god Zeus, in the form of a swan, seduces (or, according to other variations of the tale, rapes) Leda, the Aetolian princess who later became Queen of Sparta.

Pompeii, located in Campania in southern Italy, is an open-air museum where visitors can easily view the shockingly vivid remnants of the complete devastation of the city after the violent volcanic eruption. Nearby Mt. Vesuvius is still an active volcano although it is currently dormant.

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