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Pompeii House Opens to the Public after 20 Years of Restoration

On January 10 a house in Pompeii was finally unveiled to the public after 20 years of restorative processes. The House of Vettii, or Domus Vettiorium in Latin, could have once belonged to two former slaves who accumulated incredible economic success through the wine business. The opulent Pompeii house sheds light on the details of domestic life in the Ancient Roman city’s upper echelon. 

The house belonged to two men – Aulus Vettius Conviva and Aulus Vettius Restitutus, according to the AP. Pompeii experts say that these two homeowners were not members of Roman nobility but were once slaves who were later freed in a classic rags-to-riches story. Historians thought the two may have been brothers, but experts say they were most likely strangers enslaved by the same man – Aulus Vettius, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. 

The structure may have been constructed in the second century BC. It's decorated with ornate marble baths and tables surrounding the garden. In the living room, a vivid fresco depicts Hercules as a child crushing two snakes. Erotic frescoes are also peppered throughout the house, which may have accommodated a small brothel,  according to The Guardian. 

Like the rest of the city, the House of Vettii was buried under volcanic ash and pumice during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. First unearthed in the late 19th century, they closed the house in 2002 for urgent restoration work. It was partially reopened in 2016 but closed again in 2020 for the final restoration process which included restoring frescoes, floors, and colonnades. The unveiling of the restored home follows decades of bureaucratic inertia, neglect, and pillaging by thieves. 

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