LONDON-Archaeologists have excavated the house of a 'wealthy and cultured' man who lived in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii that was buried by ash and rock spewed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Mount Vesuvius, on the west coast of Italy, is the only active volcano in continental Europe and is thought to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.
The eruption belched out a lethal combination of toxic sulphurous gas and hundreds of tonnes of volcanic ash that buried the cities of Pompeii, Oplontis, and Stabiae overnight.
Seismic activity from Vesuvius also triggered a deadly mudflow, wiping out the ancient city of Herculaneum
Conservation work is now underway and new finds have been uncovered at a private house known as the 'House of Jupiter' (Casa di Giove) in the Regio V part of the ancient city.
The house was already partly excavated between the 18th and 19th centuries but archaeologists have uncovered yet more frescoes and ornate remains that give us an insight into everyday life thousands of years ago.
The 2,000 year-old works of art are in good condition, despite surviving one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in written history.
The name of the house comes from a small picture depicting Jupiter found on a shrine placed in the garden.
It was believed to belong to a wealthy and educated man and is decorated in first Roman style (primo stile pompeiano).
The house has a central atrium surrounded by several decorated rooms with fake marble painted in bright shades of red, yellow and green.
'The rooms in the back, reserved for the family, had been restored with more contemporary decor', said the director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, Massimo Osanna.
Traces of fire were found in an adjacent house which had blackened the frescoed wall.
Mr Osanna told Italian news outlet ANSA: 'The domus had 'vintage' decoration in the first Pompeian style.
'The owner must have been wealthy and cultured, aware of the value of painting'.
Mr Osanna also said that the site is the largest excavation in the unexplored area of ??the ancient city in the post-war period.
Within the walls of the ill-fated 'House of Jupiter' the archaeologists found an impressive array of terracotta lion heads, coins, glass objects and roof tiles emblazoned with trademarks.
Scientists also excavated the area around the house, unearthing the nearby pavement and an adjacent alleyway.
Mr Ossana says the excavation project will continue until 2020.
In the past few months archaeologists have also excavated a street of houses with intact balconies that were also buried by the vast eruption.
Some of the balconies even had amphorae – the conical-shaped terra cotta vases that were used to hold wine and oil in ancient Roman times.
The discovery has been hailed as a 'complete novelty'.
The Italian Culture Ministry hopes they can be restored and opened to the public.
The culture ministry's Pompeii authority announced the discovery of the balconies back in May.
It said the balconies were a 'complete novelty' for this part of the buried city, which hasn't yet been fully excavated.
Upper stores have seldom been found among the ruins of the ancient town, which was destroyed by an eruption of Vesuvius volcano and buried under up to six metres of ash and volcanic rubble.