Tombs & Trash – Pompeii Saw Trash Pits & Tombs in the Same Place

In ancient Pompeii, it appears that for the Romans, trash and tombs went hand in hand. New discoveries have uncovered dedicated trash pits along side tombs. The ancients were never ones for adequate, effective, or health-conscience means of trash disposal.

Even so, this new discovery has surprised even some of the most tenured scholars. However, many modern archaeologists have recognized the ‘casual’ relationship Romans had with waste disposal and the lack of ‘reverence’ attributed to burials.

“In general, when a Roman was confronted with death, he or she was more concerned with memory than with the afterlife. Individuals wanted to be remembered, and the way to do that was a big tomb in a high-traffic area. In other words, these tombs and cemeteries were never meant to be places for quiet contemplation. Tombs were display — very much a part of every day life, definitely not set apart, clean or quiet. They were part of the ‘down and dirty’ in life.”

To read more about this discovery, see the article in Science Daily.

5 thoughts on “Tombs & Trash – Pompeii Saw Trash Pits & Tombs in the Same Place

  1. Jim Wheeler

    Interesting. It occurs to me that this is early evidence of human beings learning to live in large groups. It contrasts with 190,000 years or so of our species evolving in small tribes and roaming the countrysides, so it is not surprising to me that they weren’t very good at managing waste disposal and their living environment. In fact, it wasn’t until modern times and the industrial revolution that we really got serious about it, right? And, of course, there was no understanding of the nature of disease either. Even during the great flu epidemic of 1918 there was a powerful meme that disease was was caused by “bad air”. We are still have a way to go in optimizing environmental systems, maybe quite a way, depending on politics.


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