Archaeologists make ‘stunning’ find of banquet hall in Pompeii

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A group of archaeologists excavating the doomed city of Pompeii found quite the surprise earlier this week: a banquet hall complete with paintings inspired by the Trojan War.

The discovery was announced earlier this week, The Associated Press noted. 

The banquet hall and its mosaic floor were uncovered during a project to help prevent further demise of the ruins of Pompeii. 

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Pompeii was a bustling city near Naples until the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The volcano destroyed the entire city, killing thousands — yet left it remarkably preserved. 

The city sat under a layer of volcanic ash for centuries until it was re-discovered in the 18th century, says the website for the Smithsonian.  

fresco found in Pompeii

This image released by the Italian Culture Ministry on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, shows a fresco depicting the Greek mythology’s figures Cassandra, right, a cursed prophetess, and Apollo, God of oracles and knowledge, inside an imposing banquet hall. (Italian Culture Ministry via AP, HO)

Since then, it has become a popular tourist destination and archaeological dig site.

Pompeii was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the UNESCO website says. 

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The ruins of Pompeii is the world’s only archaeological site that “provides a complete picture of an ancient Roman city,” said UNESCO. 

Helen of Troy and Paris of Troy fresco

This image released by the Italian Culture Ministry on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, shows a fresco depicting Helen, left, and Paris of Troy, figures from Greek mythology. (Italian Culture Ministry via AP, HO)

The newly discovered banquet hall was likely used for “refined entertaining,” said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Pompeii archaeological park, according to the AP.

The room’s black walls meant that smoke from oil lamps would be hidden, he also said. 

The paintings were likely meant to both entertain and to “provide conversation starters.”

The banquet hall is about 45 feet long and 18 feet wide. 

It opens to a courtyard located near a staircase, the AP noted.

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The images painted on the walls include Helen of Troy, Apollo and Cassandra.

The paintings were likely meant to both entertain and to “provide conversation starters,” the same source said.

newly discovered banquet hall in Pompeii

This image released by the Italian Culture Ministry on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, shows a banquet hall with elegant black walls. The walls were used to hide smoke from oil lamps.  (Italian Culture Ministry via AP, HO)

Previously, excavations of Pompeii had focused on the “elaborately frescoed villas” belonging to the city’s upper-class residents.

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Recently, these newer excavations have centered on parts of the city where the middle class and servants lived. 

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The banquet hall was discovered during an excavation that was intended to make the Pompeii archaeological park more sustainable in the wake of climate change. 

The Associated Press contributed reporting. 

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