The tradition of nativity scenes dates back to a more recent history, but even in antiquity, traces of ritual arrangements in homes can be found. Thirteen terracotta figurines, remnants of an ancient ritual, emerge from a room in a domus adjacent to the House of Leda and the Swan, where excavation, restoration, and enhancement work are currently underway.

The small sculptures, about 15 centimeters tall, include recognizable human figures, as well as a walnut, an almond, the head of a clay rooster, and a glass pinecone.

They were found standing vertically on a horizontal surface inside a room where there likely was a shelf.

The sculptures protruded from the lapilli at a height of more than 2 meters above ground level. The room that housed them, probably the atrium of the house, also had decorations that have emerged so far at the top of the walls.

According to preliminary studies, some themes seem to refer to the myth of Cybele and Attis, related to the life cycle of the seasons and the fertility of the land, and therefore, to the spring equinox.

The ongoing work involves the known rooms of the House of Leda (unearthed between 2018 and 2019 as part of the planned work for the Great Pompeii Project) and two domus, not better identified, to the north and south of the House of Leda.

During the removal of the still-present earth in some of the rooms of the House of Leda, in order to reach ground level, a finely frescoed room also emerged, featuring four roundels with elegantly refined female faces.

The excavation’s goal is to secure the excavation fronts (the perimeter between the structures already uncovered and the unexcavated areas) and preserve and conserve the decorative elements, taking into account the public use of the complex.


Parco archeologico di Pompei | M. Rispoli, G. Zuchtriegel, Scavo e restauro della Casa di Leda – Regio V, 6. Nuovi rinvenimenti. E-Journal, Scavi di Pompei 22.12.2023

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