‘Miniature Pompeii’: Ancient Roman building found in abandoned cinema hall in Italy

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‘Miniature Pompeii’: Ancient Roman building found in abandoned cinema hall in Italy

An ancient Roman building has been found during excavations at a former cinema in the northern Italian city of Verona in what has been described as a “miniature Pompeii”.

Detail of the frescoed walls and carbonized wood

The discovery was made during excavations in the basement of Astra cinema, which is undergoing renovation after lying abandoned for more than 20 years.

With its “magnificent frescoed walls”, the building, which dates back to the second century, “evokes a miniature Pompeii”, said Verona’s archaeological superintendent, the department in charge of archaeology for the area.

It is not yet clear what function the building had, but experts said it appeared to have survived a fire as the roof had collapsed and there were items of charred wooden furniture among the finds. 

Overhead view of room with frescoed walls, decorated floors and carbonized wood

“A fire seems to have put an end to the attendance of the complex,” the superintendent said. 

Despite the fire, “the environment was preserved intact, with the magnificent colours of the frescoed walls dating back to the second century”.

The find and evidence of a fire evoked connotations of ancient Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79.

Remains of 2nd century Roman structure under 1930s movie theatre in Verona

“A calamitous event, in this case, a fire, suddenly marked the end of the complex, leaving traces,” the report added.

The discovery comes just over a year after a perfectly preserved Roman mosaic floor was found close to Verona.

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The multicoloured tiles, found beneath a row of vines, had been part of the foundations of a Roman villa, the remains of which were discovered a century before in a hilly area above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella. The villa is believed to have dated back to the third century.


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