Archeologists have discovered what scientists are calling a “sorcerer’s treasure trove” in what was left of a wooden box in the ruins of a house in Pompeii in Italy.
The fascinating collection of gems, beads, crystals, amulets, scarabs and miniature figures of people, animals, penises and a skull may have been used in good luck or fertility rituals, the Italian news service ANSA reported Monday.
The remains of 10 victims of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD that destroyed the city were also found in the house, and scientists are working to determine their relationships.
As for the “sorcerer’s” box, “there are dozens of good luck charms next to other objects that were attributed with the power of destroying bad luck,” Massimo Osanna, director of the ongoing Pompeii dig, told ANSA.
“They are … extraordinary because they tell micro-stories, biographies of the inhabitants of the city who tried to escape the eruption,” Osanna said in a statement on Facebook.
Many of the objects, discovered in Casa del Giardino, appear to be linked to women, fertility and birth. One glass bead is engraved with a figure of Dionysus, the Roman god of wine, fertility and ritual madness.
The catastrophic volcanic eruption had a unique preserving effect as people and animals were killed almost instantly by super hot gases and covered in ash, effectively freezing them in time. Bodies decomposed within the hardened ash, then archaeologists much later filled the voids with plaster to re-create what was inside. The resulting figures provide a look into a day in the life of an ancient city.