ROME – Archaeologists have unveiled another steamy corner of ancient Pompeii, and this time it’s an eyeful: a bathhouse with a unisex dressing room whose lockers sport erotic sex scenes.
Italian officials inaugurated the new addition to the sprawling ancient city on Wednesday. Pompeii was buried by ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79, and the archaeological site near Naples is one of Italy’s biggest tourist attractions.
Much of ancient Pompeii is still being excavated. Nearly a half-century ago, archaeologists uncovered the remains of the thermal bathhouse, which featured a marvel of plumbing for those times: a swimming pool heated to a constant temperature.
Starting next month, the discovery will be open to the public. Besides a sauna room and pools for washing in hot and cold water, tourists will be able to see an ancient version of lockers – chests to store their clothes while dipping in the pools. Eight paintings vividly depicting sex acts were found by archaeologists.
Archaeologists said there was only one changing room, likely used by both sexes.
Last year, a highly popular exhibit in a Naples museum featured a collection of ancient erotic art, much of it from Pompeii, a city that was living high when it was destroyed in a day.
Considerable evidence testifies that Pompeii’s wealthy merchants and visiting sailors had a taste for eroticism and that prostitution flourished in Roman times. Most of the artifacts in the show were found in bathhouses or bordellos in Pompeii and Herculaneum, another ruined ancient city near Naples.
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