Items of everyday life were used extensively and rarely ended up in the garbage
Researchers study the waste buried under Mount Vesuvius volcanic ash to understand the relationship between ordinary Romans and their possessions. The research project is called The Pompeii Artifact Life History Project (PALHIP) and focuses on street trash, buckets and even storage containers recovered in earlier excavations in Pompeii. The extraordinary preservation of objects by volcanic debris allows scientists to examine the artifacts in an attempt to establish patterns in the manufacture, distribution, acquisition, use, maintenance, reuse, and discard of these items. The project, which started in 2012, is leaded by Theodore Peña of the University of California, Berkeley.
It seems that people didn’t necessarily go easy on their possessions, even though the articles of everyday life were often purchased rather than homemade. The examination of the objects discovered at a farmhouse near Pompeii shows that “they just basically didn’t take out the garbage” according to Peña, as the cooking range was heaped with ashes. A bronze bucket was found full of dents, possibly caused by its banging into the side of the well just outside the farmhouse. There were also pots with bits of the rims broken off and a casserole so badly cracked that it was close to falling apart, but even so, people had kept them for further use. More than 1,000 amphorae were found at a complex near Pompeii that seems to have been a wine-bottling facility and many of them were patched and waiting to be refilled, Peña says.
In terms of street rubbish, researchers expected to find lots of broken glass, but instead they found almost none, indicating that even shards of glass were being collected and made into something else. “We’re actually starting to see evidence of people’s choices and how they dealt with their objects,” says Caroline Cheung, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, involved in the project. “We get a sense of how people were using them, how they were storing them, whether they were throwing them away or keeping them.” The first findings of the research suggest that waste prevention and reuse was in people’s minds in Pompeii, as the indications show that ‘ceramics and other types of objects were being reused, repurposed or at least repaired’.
Source: USA Today