Remains of pregnant tortoise shed light on Pompeii’s destruction

24 June 2022, 12:54

Italy Pompeii Turtle
Italy Pompeii Turtle. Picture: PA

The 14cm-long Hermann’s tortoise and her egg were discovered during excavations.

Archaeologists in Pompeii have found the remains of a pregnant tortoise that had sought refuge in a home destroyed by an earthquake in 62AD, only to be covered by volcanic ash and rock when Mount Vesuvius erupted 17 years later.

The 14cm-long Hermann’s tortoise and her egg were discovered during excavations of an area of the city that, after the earthquake levelled Pompeii, was being rebuilt for the construction of public baths, officials said.

Pompeii was then destroyed for good after the volcanic eruption in 79AD.

The remains of a pregnant tortoise (Pompeii Archaeological Park via AP)

Archaeologists suspect the tortoise, a species that is common in southern Europe, had sought refuge in the rubble of a home that was too badly damaged from the quake to be rebuilt.

Pompeii’s director general Gabriel Zuchtriegel said the fact that she still had her egg suggested she died before finding a safe, hospitable place to lay it.

“This lets us reflect on Pompeii in this phase after the earthquake but before the eruption, when many homes were being rebuilt, the whole city was a construction site, and evidently some spaces were so unused that wild animals could roam, enter and try to lay their eggs,” he said.

It is not the first tortoise to be found in Pompeii, and Mr Zuchtriegel said an important focus of current excavations and research concerns the organic and agricultural materials found outside Pompeii’s urban centre.

The discovery of the tortoise, he said, adds to “this mosaic of relations between culture and nature, community and environment that represents the history of ancient Pompeii”.

The excavations in the Stabiane baths section of Pompeii are being carried out by the Free University of Berlin, the University of Napoli’s L’Orientale and Oxford University, alongside the Pompeii archaeological site.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

R Kelly

Opening arguments made as R Kelly faces trial on sex charges

A prison window (Ben Birchall/PA)

Payout for victims of judges who took kickbacks to send children to US prisons

R Kelly

R Kelly trial is about singer’s ‘hidden side’ court told

Venice

Venice mayor outraged at surfers motoring down Grand Canal

Taiwan China

Taiwan and China hold opposing military drills as tensions rise

Georgia election investigation

Giuliani faces grand jury in Georgia 2020 election probe

Royal guard

Norway discharges 30 members of the royal guard for illegal drug use

Kashmir Missing Soldier

Missing Indian soldier’s body found on glacier after 38 years

Spain Wildfires

Ten injured while leaving stopped train near wildfire in Spain

Russia Ukraine War

Ammunition explodes at depot in Crimea

Serbia Kosovo EU

EU to host Serbia-Kosovo talks in Brussels as tension grows

Haruyuki Takahashi

Ex-member of Tokyo Olympics organising committee arrested on bribery suspicions

Thailand violence

Southern Thailand hit by wave of arson and bombings

China Drought

Chinese factories shut down after drought hits power supplies

CPAC Republicans

Sarah Palin reaches Alaskan election’s final round in comeback bid

Natasha Henstridge has paid tribute to her ex-husband

'No words... only love': Darius Danesh's ex-wife shares tribute after his shock death at 41