Archaeologists discover ancient prison bakery at Pompeii 2
The facility was apparently no longer in operation when the volcano Vesuvius erupted repeatedly in 79 A.D. Image: Parco archeologico di Pompei/Handout via REUTER

Archaeologists discover ancient prison bakery at Pompeii

Officials say the cramped room with barred windows is a "shocking example" of the precarious living conditions of enslaved people in the Roman city destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Deutsche Welle | Dec 09 2023

A prison bakery where enslaved workers and donkeys were confined and exploited to grind the grain needed to make bread, was discovered during excavations at the ruins of Pompeii in Italy.

The cramped room with no view of the outside world and small windows high in the wall barred with iron was part of a home that emerged during excavations of the ancient city, which was buried in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.

"This place tells us about the very precarious living conditions of enslaved people and animals exploited for this grueling work," Pompeii Archeological Park Director Gabriel Zuchtriegel said on Friday.

A window in on the life of the enslaved

Markings used to guide enslaved workers and blindfolded animals in a circle to keep the millstone moving were found on the bakery's floor.

"It is a space in which we have to imagine the presence of people of servile status ... it is the most shocking side of ancient slavery" and its "brute violence," Zuchtriegel said.

In August, archaeologists discovered a small bedroom in a Roman villa near Pompeii that was almost certainly used by slaves, throwing light on their condition in the ancient world.

The site has since seen a flurry of archaeological activity largely thanks to a recently concluded €105 million ($115.58 million) EU-funded project.

Pompeii, rediscovered in the 18th century, is one of Italy's most popular tourist attractions and repeatedly uncovers sensational finds.

lo/sms (Reuters, dpa)