When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., covering the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in layers of ash, it created one of histories great time capsules. The eruption preserved entire stretches of the Roman port of Pompeii, including things like political graffiti and bawdy jokes on the walls. It also captured the heart-wrenching final moments of some 13,000 people citizens who died from the volcano’s heat, poison gas and ash clouds.
While some of Pompeii has been unearthed, much of the city remains buried. A massive earthquake in 1980 led the city curator to bring in international help to map the city before the site was damaged or destroyed. That’s one reason the Swedish Pompeii Project began working in the city in 2000 trying record and analyze an entire city block in the archeological site. Now the project has used the latest 3D scanning technology to recreate that block, called Insula V.1, and also created a detailed 3D model of one of the Roman villas on the street.
"By combining new technology with more traditional methods, we can describe Pompeii in greater detail and more accurately than was previously possible," Nicoló Dell´Unto, digital archaeologist at Lund University, which is leading the project, says in a press release.
Among the buildings the project has uncovered and digitized on Insula V.1 are a bakery, a laundry, a tavern, three large private houses and some gardens, including one that had a running fountain at the time of the eruption. In layers of the dig site they found rare objects like three intact windows made from crystalline gypsum.
The house model they made is of the villa of Lucius Caecilius Iucundus, a wealthy banker in Pompeii. Excavations show that the entrance to his large abode was paved with a black and white mosaic including the image of sleeping dog. The home also had many frescoes throughout, depicting mythological scenes. The house includes a chest where he stored his money and an altar memorializing an earthquake that occurred in the region 17 years before.
George Dvorsky at Gizmodo reports the house tour shows how the Romans were masters of color and were able to integrate plants, trees and other natural elements into their homes.
It sure looks like fine living—except perhaps for the volcano looming in the distance.