World news: Pompeii, Peru, and Morocco

Pompeii slaves’ room discovered

Archaeologists excavating the servants’ quarters of a suburban villa in Civita Giuliana, north-west of Pompeii in Italy, have found a 16m2 room used by slaves who may have been involved in keeping horses at the house’s stables.

IMAGE: Parco Archeologico di Pompei

The room, which is extremely well preserved, contains three beds (one of which may have belonged to a youth or child) and just one small, high-up window. Although archaeologists have uncovered no evidence of decoration in the room, they have created plaster casts of objects found inside, including bedding, ceramic jugs, and a chamber pot.

The bedroom seems also to have been used for storage: eight amphorae were found in its corners, the shaft of a chariot was discovered resting against a bed, and metal and fabric objects (seemingly parts of a horse harness) were found in a wooden chest.

Pre-Columbian mass grave in Peru

The remains of 25 people, mostly young women under 30 years of age, as well as some teenagers and children, have been found buried in a 10m2 mass grave in Chan Chan, Peru.

The citadel of Chan Chan, which covers more than 20km2, was the capital of the ChimĂş Empire, which controlled part of northern Peru between AD 900 and 1470. It consists of a series of compounds, and the grave was uncovered in a raised section of the site during the fourth season of excavations at the Utzh An compound.

Archaeologists have suggested that there were perhaps two phases of burial at the site: an initial direct burial phase at the empire’s height, followed by a later depositional phase, when funerary remains may have been brought from else-where for burial at the same site.

It is hoped that further investigations will help to establish the identities of the people in the mass grave, who may have been members of the ChimĂş elite.

Ancient clothes-making in Morocco

Excavations in Contrebandiers Cave, Morocco, from 2007 to 2010, have uncovered animal bones and an assemblage of 62 bone tools used in the manufacture of leather and fur.

Carnivore bones found in the cave were initially thought to be the leftovers of Pleistocene people’s meals, but further examination of these remains has revealed cutmarks indicating that the animals, which include wildcats, jackals, and foxes, were skinned for their fur and used to make clothes by people living in the cave c.120,000-c.90,000 years ago. Bovid remains from the same cave, by contrast, bore different marks, indicating that they had been processed for meat.

The research was published in the journal iScience ( j.isci.2021.102988).