Herculaneum had garbage problems
December 27th, 2006
These inscriptions were painted in black and carefully placed on straight parallel lines carved on the plaster.
"The plastered area worked as a blackboard — the previous inscriptions were wiped with a thin plaster layer to make space to a
new inscription," Vicari told to Discovery News.
Other inscriptions were found during the latest century as example the decree by the magistrate Alficius Paulus against the dumping of waste.
Matteo Della Corte, who discovered it, realized there was a second inscription on the plaster layer underneath, and tried in vain to bring it to light.
In fact painted
inscriptions fade quicky in the sun and rain, once exposed.
"Indeed, the ink was almost gone and the plaster was seriously damaged. But infrared reflectography has succeed in recovering that lost inscription, showing that we can apply this technology to other sites in Herculaneum and Pompeii," Vicari said.
The inscription below was another decree against garbage dumping in the area around the water tank. It was issued by two joint magistrates, Rufellius Romanus and Tetteius Severus.
"The authorities were very strict" said Vicari. "Transgressors, if free citizens, would have had to pay a fine. Lashes were reserved for slaves who infringed the rule."
"The town's social makeup was rather different from Pompeii's. But the fact that 'no dumping' decrees were repeated over and over on the board, means that this was a serious problem in the town," Herculaneum scholar Mario Pagano told Discovery News.
Vicari also found a third inscription, which has yet to be decoded. Most likely, it was made by a passer-by, as the water tank was close
to a market, Vicari said.
"This is important research," said Pagano. "Inscriptions in Pompeii abound, but they consist mainly of electoral notices. The finding in Herculaneum, on the contrary, is rather unique."