Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!

Roman Holiday

On Italy’s Amalfi Coast, archaeologists have excavated a remarkable seaside villa that was buried in the A.D. 79 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Below are images showing just a few of the extraordinary discoveries made at the site, which sits 30 feet beneath a church in the center of the town of Positano. To read an in-depth article on the excavation of the villa, go to "Romans on the Bay of Naples."

  • Restorer Giancarlo Sorcini prepares to inject cement to consolidate frescoes adorning the eastern wall of the villa’s triclinium, or dining room.
  • Iron implements are embedded in volcanic ash close to the eastern wall of the triclinium. Archaeologists believe they are tools that were being used to restore the complex immediately before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.
  • Archaeologist Luciana Jacobelli studies a large collapsed fresco fragment. The visible side of the painting probably decorated the wall of an as-yet unidentified room, while the opposite side, now embedded in the ground, was featured in the triclinium.
  • Scholars believe the violence of the eruption caused the villa to totally collapse. This image shows a crumpled main wall in the foreground and scattered roof tiles in the upper left, a reminder of the volcano's force.
  • A piece of mud still holds the impression of a wooden door that has disintegrated over time. In the middle of the piece, a small part of the door’s original decoration is still visible.