Villa of the Mysteries
is located just outside of ancient Pompeii, north of the
Ercolano Gate (P. Ercolano, or Porta Ercolano, on the map to the
left). A small part of it was excavated in 1909-1910 by the
owner of the land, but the major part of the excavation and
restoration took place in 1929-1930 after the government of
Italy took over.
The Villa of the Mysteries
is one of the most remarkable private houses (where agricultural
products, especially wine, were cultivated) discovered so far.
It is best known for its wall paintings; they are simply
stunning with their vivid colors and dramatic images (see below
for a YouTube video that shows them off to their best
But a number of individuals
lost their lives here as well when Vesuvius erupted. At the time
of the eruption, workers were still repairing damage to the
villa that had occurred in the major 62 AD earthquake.
In all, nine bodies
were recovered from the villa. Room 54 (highlighted in red
below) revealed the remains of three people: two women and a
baby girl. Although these three individuals were only skeletons,
they were identified by their jewelry: armbands, a gold and
emerald necklace, and three rings. They appear to have taken
refuge on an upper floor, but the roof (and attic) collapsed
under the weight of the volcanic debris, sending them below.
Today all of the rooms at the back of the Villa of the Mysteries
(#52-60) are inaccessible to visitors, but two casts are on