Pompeii Unearthed: Ancient Political Slogans and Eruption's Final Ritual
Italian archaeologists have uncovered political slogans on the inner walls of a house buried under the lava and ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 in Pompeii, as reported by Iflscience.
The text referred to a figure from ancient Rome named Aulus Rustius Verus, who, judging from the inscriptions, was running for the position of 'aedile'—a magistrate responsible for public works, buildings, roads, and games.
Aulus Rustius Verus had already been known to historians as one of two members of the duumvirate of the 70s AD. He held this position together with Julius Polybius.
One of the inscriptions read, 'I exhort you to vote for Aulus Rustius Verus, a man worthy of this public office.'
The inscriptions, initially carved into the walls and later painted in red, were found inside the Lararium, a shrine to the lares, household deities or guardian spirits of the Roman home.
It appears that the house belonged to a supporter of Rustius Verus, possibly a friend or even a freed slave. Researchers have even speculated that the political campaign may not have been entirely aboveboard.
This is because the house also contained a well-preserved bakery with a large oven. During those times, politicians and bakers may have had a strategic alliance—bakers could promote candidates at their popular sales points, and successful politicians would then offer them certain advantages.
"Ediles and bakers cooperated on the edge of legality, and it is entirely plausible that Rustius Verus could understand this from the very beginning, just like Julius Polybius, when he was still trying to become an aedile in the heat of his campaign, since above all voters eat bread," said Professor Maria Chiara Scappaticcio from the Federico II University.
Under the collapsed roof of the house, two women and a child were found buried. Researchers also discovered that the family members of this house carried out daily rituals in front of the shrine. Thanks to this remarkable discovery, researchers were able to reconstruct the final offering brought to the shrine by the people just before the fatal eruption.
Scientists determined that they burned figs and dates on olive pits and cedar nuts. The cedar nut was a standard element in rituals related to the Lararium. At the end of the ritual, a whole egg was added, and all of this was covered with roofing tiles. Two gypsum snakes and several frescoed serpents were visible on the wall behind the altar.