Archaeologists working at the ancient Roman city of Pompeii announced on Thursday that they have uncovered a "street of balconies" in a newly explored part of the site. The exceptional find also included frescoes, amphorae of wine, oil lamps and vases in what scientists hope will offer more insight into life for middle-class Romans.
"For Pompeii, conservation of the upper floor is a rarity," site director Massimo Osanna told Italy's ANSA news agency.
The city of Pompeii, near modern-day Naples, was famously covered in volcanic ash and pumice when nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79. Since its rediscovery in 1599, the remains of 1,500 victims and countless treasures have been uncovered in an exhaustively ongoing excavation.
The latest discovery has unveiled a preserved fresco depicting Cupid carrying a bucket of water, as well as a square garden that was having work done at the time of the disaster.
"It was in all likelihood renovation work after the devastating earthquake of 62 AD," Osanna said.
This earthquake, likely triggered by renewed activity within Vesuvius, scholars believe could be to blame for the lack of an evacuation of Pompeii and the surrounding area. In the following years, people in the region had become accustomed to smaller ongoing tremors, and did not recognize them as a harbinger of a volcanic eruption.
An archaeobotanist working alongside 40 diggers told ANSA that she was studying the remains of the newly uncovered garden to establish what was grown there – using poured plaster molds, the same method used to make casts of victims' bodies.
"The idea for now is that it was a vegetable garden surrounded by bushes and trees, possibly fruit trees," she said.