The Azerbaijan State News Agency


Pompeii's hidden treasure is revealed after 2,000 years: Archaeologists discover a lavish painting of a mythological scene while excavating the ancient Roman city

Pompeii's hidden treasure is revealed after 2,000 years: Archaeologists discover a lavish painting of a mythological scene while excavating the ancient Roman city

Baku, March 7, AZERTAC

Archaeologists have unearthed a stunning painting, 2,000 years after it was buried under volcanic material in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, according to

The lavish artwork was found in the House of Leda, which is well known for its intricate wall paintings.

It depicts Phrixus and Helle, two twins from Greek mythology, as they travel across the sea on a magical ram while fleeing from their evil stepmother.

In the scene, Helle is reaching up towards Phrixus after falling off the ram, shortly before drowning in the strait between Europe and Asia.

Pompeii was famously destroyed in AD 79 by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, but excavations are still yielding ancient discoveries.

The new artwork was revealed by Pompeii Archaeological Park, the government-backed body that oversees the remains of the former city and ongoing excavations.

The astonishing piece is a 'fresco', a type of wall painting, but damage to the wall has meant it is not entirely preserved.

The top right of the artwork is lost and there are two prominent cracks towards the centre.

But what is there is in a remarkable condition considering it is around 2,000 years old, with vibrant colour and intricate brushwork.

Dr Sophie Hay, a British archaeologist who works at the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, called it a 'magical' discovery.

'Witnessing the vibrant colours of freshly uncovered frescoes at Pompeii is a privilege and joy that never fades,' she said.

'Seeing the latest discovery of a mythological scene – Phrixus seated on a ram while his sister Helle drowns – in the context of the room it decorated is no exception.'

In Greek legend, the two siblings are forced to flee because their stepmother, Ino, wants to get rid of them.

The painting shows the brother, Phrixus, riding the magical golden-woolled ram, which is capable of flying or swimming.

The sister, Helle, is falling from the ram into the water and reaching up to her brother for help.

According to the legend, Helle eventually drowns, while Phrixus safely flees to the region called Colchis, where he sacrifices the ram to Zeus, who places it in the heavens as the constellation.

Experts are hopeful that the newly-found fresco will go on display for the public to enjoy at Pompeii, which gets almost four million visitors a year.

The new discovery is part of the ongoing excavations in the House of Leda, which is known for its very intricate wall paintings.

But Dr Andrew Sillett, a classics lecturer at the University of Oxford, pointed out that 'not all the art in the house is like that'.

'In the entrance hall visitors are greeted by a large painting of Priapus, a fertility god, placing his enormous erection on a set of scales to see how it measures up to the fruits of that year's harvest,' he told MailOnline.

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