A wide range of jewellery and other personal equipment items were recovered and showed some interesting trends through time. Only intaglios and small bone beads were found regularly in the earlier contexts and the main focus of all the other categories tended to be in the first century AD.
Intaglios from the Campanian sites have been well studied as they have always attracted scholarly attention as one of the minor arts. An interesting aspect of the VI.1 group of intaglios are several examples that have features in their cutting which indicate they came from Roman Hellenising group. These have parts of the device formed by large facets and drilled features. This style of cutting went out of fashion long before the eruption. It is clear that people at Pompeii were using intaglios from perhaps the third century BC, and they must have been common by the late first century BC given the number found in the Augustan and early Tiberian levelling deposits.
A garnet intaglio depicting a crab from an Augusto-Tiberian context in the Inn. The body is made of of a single large facet and the stone is domed. (Catalogue no. 2.153). (Photo: Mike Baxter)
A banded agate intaglio depicting an unidentified goddess from an Augusto-Neronian context in the Inn. Note the drilled holes forming the seat. (Catalogue no. 2.157). (Photo: Mike Baxter)
Above. An Alésia brooch found in an Augusto-Tiberian context in the Shrine. These brooches are characterised by having iron hinge bars and on this one the iron has corroded obscuring part of the hinge casing. (Catalogue no. 2.13).
Right. An Aucissa brooch found in the levelling associated with building the Shrine after the earthquake destruction of the AD 60s. (Catalogue no. 2.16).
Brooches, by contrast, were not a common find and this matches the pattern that has been found amongst the finds from the eruption levels at Pompeii. They are sufficiently rare for it to be clear that brooches were not a normal part of dress in Pompeii by the time of the eruption, and the pattern in the VI.1 assemblage suggests this had been the case for some time. It can be suggested that where they are found, they are very probably indicating the presence of people who were not local to the area and who had a different type of dress. It is therefore of considerable interest that there is a concentration of brooches in deposits that are associated with the different phases of the Inn. An Inn by a major gate at the entrance to the town is, after all, a very likely place for people from other places to stay.
One interesting find is a pearl from a later first century BC pit in the Casa del Chirurgo. Pliny the Elder considered that pearls were a decadent luxury introduced in the mid first century BC. Possibly this find indicates that someone in the Casa del Chirurgo was an early adapter to decadent luxury. Certainly the inhabitant of the house would have been rich enough to have afforded such items.
Other semi-precious items recovered included a small cornelian pendant and emerald beads which had been ground to shape. The latter feature is unusual as emerald beads usually occur as the natural hexagonal crystals which only require the central perforation to be bored to make them into beads.
A much rarer find within a Pompeian context was a fragment of a coral phallic pendant. This would have been doubly protective. The phallus was a good luck symbol to ward off evil, and Pliny the elder notes coral was a good amulet for babies. Despite Campania being a noted source of coral in the Roman world, it is surprisingly rare on the Vesuvian sites. This is possibly to be explained by the fact that by the mid first century AD, Pliny was noting that it had become so scarce and expensive that it was rarely seen in the countries in which it grew.
The pearl from the Casa del Chirurgo. (Catalogue no. 2.65).
An emerald from a post-earthquake context in the Workshop. Note the grinding to shape. (Catalogue no. 2.62).
Cornelian pendant from the levelling associated with the building of the Shrine after the earthquake. (Catalogue no. 2.64).
Fragment of a coral phallic pendant from an earth floor of the mid first century AD in the Inn.
(Catalogue no. 2.143).
(All photos: Mike Baxter)
Contents copyright H.E.M. Cool and M.J. Baxter 2016