June 12, 2024

A bakery where enslaved people were imprisoned and exploited to produce bread has been discovered in the ruins of Pompeii in what has been described as the most shocking example of slavery in the ancient Roman city. The cramped bakery with small windows barred with iron was part of a home that emerged during excavations in the Regio IX area of the Pompeii archaeological park in southern Italy.

The discovery provides more evidence on the daily life of Pompeii’s enslaved people, often forgotten by historical sources but who made up the majority of the population and whose hard labour propped up the city’s economy as well as the culture and fabric of Roman civilisation.

The home is believed to have been undergoing renovations when it was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. But the remains of three victims were found in one of the bakery’s rooms in recent months, indicating the home still had occupants at the time.

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