That last light fell in the silence when we met. Ancient, radiant sunset.
Lived lives, tragedies, mysteries, past myths, translated moments. There was nobody. You said: “Feel how real everything is!” We walked at dusk, along the road with large round and white stones. A dog preceded us on the path.
The tail seemed to sweep away the white dust. The ruins, mute spectators, paraded to the sides like welcoming servants. We reached the beloved domus.
You talked about research and the Laboratory. How much charm in those words!
Applied Research as a supreme good; interdisciplinary studies the solemn game of diversity.
You were authoritative but sensitive to flowers.
I said to you: “Beauty is a compendium of knowledge”.
I imagined the warp and weft of the ancient fabrics, the pollens of the plants flying away, the pigments of the paintings that adorn the walls, the essences that perfume the balsam containers, the lawn that colors the gardens.
DNA strands that create poems. Different outlooks and different disciplines. Polybius a large laboratory, a precursor of modern experimental archeology.
The end of isolation.
A different, extraordinary knowledge was outlined and drawn, and it illuminated past lives. Now, indeed, immortal, thanks to science.
A changed sensitivity had finally arrived. No longer presupposing but affirming.
The role of differences was able to interpret new needs. The search for truth placed disciplines close to each other, bringing out a common thread of a single, great, common, profound sense. We entered the lobby.
The dark space. Mysterious perception. Expected dialogue. Meeting prelude. Absence presence.
I talked about my work.
“The contemporary has an ancient heart. It requires an archeology of the present. Culture is a militant action”.
The peristyle appeared before us. Casts of wardrobes, doors, plants. Archaic signs. You said: “We observe the nature of all things: the explosive impact on the environment, bioclimatic behavior, human remains, ancient DNA, zoo-archaeological aspects, the garden, lime, mortars, white marbles and the coloured stones, the water, the glass finds, the wooden artefacts, the textile finds, the substances in the balsam containers, the organic residues in the oil lamps and in the found objects”.
I thought, “Everyone here is under investigation!”
What was secondary in the past had become essential.
The domus was now a synthesis of new knowledge, new experimentation, new method of investigation.
I told you: “Tell it to the world, Annamaria!” Years later, you made “Homo Faber”.
Science was part of the dream.
We sat down.
The garden showed up.
It seemed to be expecting us.
Its reconstruction was a true work. The conceptual and the philological embraced each other.
We came to the HH environment: place
of crying and meaning. Suspended black space. The other sun. Silence.
I asked you, “Were they here?”
“Yes, an entire family. The girl wore two gold bracelets. She died in the last month of pregnancy”.
I told you: “Each meeting is an opportunity for a contemporary idea. A synthesis between classical knowledge and emotional encounter. The first is formal, scientific, rigorous; the second, emotional, creative, spiritual. New identity journey”.
We went out.
You looked at me and said:
“A path not yet marked. A different space of expression”.
Then came the time when we narrated the myth, the story, the gods of the domus of the freedman Polybius and of the young girl.
A great installation.
A new model of cultural fruition. A different intuition.
Science, art and technology opened a gap on the archeology of the present.
A new spirit. A new path to things that will be understood later.
I greeted you with great gratitude, eager to participate in that becoming that was before us.
Today I understand.
There are women who, in silence, gently, transform misunderstandings, pains and sufferings, into a source of light for others, as a guide to the ancient signs. Because everything changes.
As well as the flower that yields its fertile pollen to the wind.
The domus, for me, a melancholic story of great women.
You, golden figure, magic. A warning for all. Our lives are light transits in the fleeting time. The eyes are full of tears.
Claudio Salerno to Annamaria Ciarallo and the young woman with the golden bracelet
With 2 units we continue to dig into the room (EE) in a layer of ash mixed with some lapillus.
At −5.10 m from the ground level, at 240 m from the South wall and at 2.00 m from the West wall, the head of a bronze statue bearing a diadem emerges.
We continue to dig around to bring it completely to light. The shoulders can be seen, with strands of softly styled hair (thus it would seem to be an Efebo), the arms supporting two stirrups hold lamps adorned with shoots and flowers.
We now see the pelvis, the legs (the right leg is the load-bearing one and the left stretches out forward), the feet resting on a circular base also of bronze, h. 0.07 m, diam. 0.30 m.
Everything rests on the floor which is of cocciopesto and is located at −6.40 m from the ground level. As the statue is brought to light, other bronze objects emerge, mainly towards the Southwest corner.
These are large hinges certainly belonging to the door of the Southern compartment (there are 6 in total) cut laterally (inv. n. 2263 and 2268); Frag. iron lock; 1 bronze stud with ring handle (inv. 2269).
A candlestick begins to come to light.
On the right arm of the statue we find a bronze candelabrum, which fell from the South-west area. In the fall the upper end broke. Its complete height is 1.22 m.
The stem is a knotty branch, resting on three feet intertwined with 3 leaves.
We continue to dig in the South-west area of the environment to bring to light the other candlestick of which only the upper part emerges and also because we hope to find the lamp that rested on it.
We thus arrive, with the layer of ash mixed with a small lapillus layer, at an altitude of −5.98 m from the ground level.
The remaining layer of lapillus with which one reaches the floor therefore measures 52 cm. Hence it is easier to remove this material and in fact in a short time other bronze objects begin to emerge.
So we clean the whole South-west corner and to our eyes appears not only the lamp we expected to find, but a real treasure.
March 8th, 1978
Elements and ingredients:
2 original charred loaves of 79 A.D.
2 laboratory technicians
2 work gowns
The recipe for Pompeii bread was simple: water, soft wheat flour and sourdough. What we still couldn’t understand is how they managed to get the typical shape divided into 8 segments, but above all why. These and other questions are being answered by Farrell Monaco, a Canadian archaeologist expert in food archeology: her research focuses on food, preparation techniques and ceramics related to food in the Roman Mediterranean. Farrell, in addition to collecting and cross-checking material or statistical data, also focuses on the sensory aspects of the food technique. She actually eats and cooks the things she studies. Following the recipe derived from ancient texts, frescoes and archaeological research, she reproduced the Pompeian bread with the aim of the preparation process, the proportions of the ingredients, the characteristics of the piece of bread during the dough, the cooking and the taste. Antonio and Luigi accompany the archaeologist in her research, following it with fervor and interest, and recalling the years in which the laboratory concentrated on olfactory paths determined by the study of the plants of Pompeii. They smile at the memory of the findings of a tarallo, which ended up on display at the Naples archaeological museum, rather than in the Pompeii laboratory. It would have been nice to put it alongside the bread, create a culinary composition with a domestic atmosphere, and expose it to the public. When they asked to get it, the answer they received was: “The tarallo no!”.
In those years, I loved difficult challenges.
In those years, I no longer felt pain.
In those years, I was foolish and wanted to stay foolish.
In those years, I had 15 to 20 workers working with me.
In those years, I felt honored to do that job.
In those years, the passion was such that I loved every mosaic as if it was a female creature, to the point of calling it by a female noun.
In those years, I didn’t think of anything else but to better rebuild those wonders.
In those years I could propose to the director what was better to restore.
Today, I remember those years.
“The Pompeian world is not represented only by surviving monuments and tragic human stories of the people who lived and died there in the historic eruption of 79 A.D., but also by the animals who participated in its daily life and also fell victims to a tragic death.
Among them in first place is the dog, whose loyal profession was evident, as guardians of the house and vital contributor in the hunt for food, as proven by the extensive evidence left behind in its ruins.” Amedeo Maiuri
In Pompeii, some dogs spent their days at home, without performing any specific duties and only sharing moments of intimacy with their owners. In everyday life, the watchdog was a family member and had an emotional attachment to their owners, children and household slaves; since they spent most of their time as guardians of the house, they inevitably also became family pets.
However, it would be inappropriate to make a distinction between watchdogs, hunting dogs and companion dogs since their roles could be interchangeable.
For their part, Pompeians loved their dogs, hosting them in their home, and lovingly taking care of their daily needs. Not even in the previous century did the dog abandon Pompeii. His role as a pet and guard continued to persist alongside the keepers, who until the 1980s used them as faithful workmates in the long nights of surveillance of the city.
The unarmed custodians kept watching over the silent city day and night, making sure that thieves and criminals did not wander in search of loot and treasure, and did not offend the immense historical and cultural heritage of the site.