IN PHOTOS: ‘Enchanted garden’ discovered at Pompeii

The latest treasure to emerge from the ruins of Pompeii is what's been dubbed an 'enchanted garden', a courtyard lined with images of mythical beasts.

IN PHOTOS: 'Enchanted garden' discovered at Pompeii
The director of Pompeii, Massimo Osanna, in the newly unearthed 'Enchanted Garden'. Photo: Ciro Fusco/Parco Archeologico di Pompei

The courtyard, which stands in a house in one of the less explored areas of the ancient city, is believed to be a lararium – a shrine to the Lares, Roman gods who were believed to protect the home and family.

While such shrines were a common feature of Roman houses, this lararium, covered in vividly coloured frescoes, is one of the finest examples discovered in Pompeii to date, according to archaeologists.

They believe that the walls once enclosed flowerbeds, where real flowers would have mingled with the plants, peacocks and other birds lining the panels.

Elsewhere, more fantastical creatures appear: two coiled serpents surrounding offerings of pinecones and eggs, and a figure that appears to be half man, half dog. The snakes are thought to represent protective spirits.

One wall, a vivid Pompeiian red, depicts a boar attacked by what appear to be lions and other other animals, which archaeologists say could be an allegory of good triumphing over evil.

There is also a decorated niche, presumably an altar, where they discovered the remains of offerings burnt to honour the Lares, as well as what may have once been a pool.

It is “a wonderful, enigmatic room that deserves to be studied in depth”, Massimo Osanna, director of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, told Ansa.

The courtyard was unearthed in a house that was partially excavated around a century ago, but had lain untouched until archaeologists began a new project to explore the area earlier this year. They have made several stunning discoveries since then, including the House of Dolphins, a villa painted with animal frescoes, and the Alley of Balconies, some rare examples of buildings whose upper storeys survived the volcanic eruption intact.

Other recent finds include the complete remains of a horse, a child's skeleton, and the bones of a man seemingly decapitated by a large rock while trying to flee.


All photos by Ciro Fusco for the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, via Facebook.


France to compensate relatives of Algerian Harki fighters

France has paved the way towards paying reparations to more relatives of Algerians who sided with France in their country's independence war but were then interned in French camps.

France to compensate relatives of Algerian Harki fighters

More than 200,000 Algerians fought with the French army in the war that pitted Algerian independence fighters against their French colonial masters from 1954 to 1962.

At the end of the war, the French government left the loyalist fighters known as Harkis to fend for themselves, despite earlier promises it would look after them.

Trapped in Algeria, many were massacred as the new authorities took revenge.

Thousands of others who fled to France were held in camps, often with their families, in deplorable conditions that an AFP investigation recently found led to the deaths of dozens of children, most of them babies.

READ ALSO Who are the Harkis and why are they still a sore subject in France?

French President Emmanuel Macron in 2021 asked for “forgiveness” on behalf of his country for abandoning the Harkis and their families after independence.

The following year, a law was passed to recognise the state’s responsibility for the “indignity of the hosting and living conditions on its territory”, which caused “exclusion, suffering and lasting trauma”, and recognised the right to reparations for those who had lived in 89 of the internment camps.

But following a new report, 45 new sites – including military camps, slums and shacks – were added on Monday to that list of places the Harkis and their relatives were forced to live, the government said.

Now “up to 14,000 (more) people could receive compensation after transiting through one of these structures,” it said, signalling possible reparations for both the Harkis and their descendants.

Secretary of state Patricia Miralles said the decision hoped to “make amends for a new injustice, including in regions where until now the prejudices suffered by the Harkis living there were not recognised”.

Macron has spoken out on a number of France’s unresolved colonial legacies, including nuclear testing in Polynesia, its role in the Rwandan genocide and war crimes in Algeria.