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Newly found frescoes may have adorned ancient Pompeian hotel

fresco
A fresco of Calliope, the Greek muse of epic poetry, is one of the frescoes discovered in the ancient ruins near Pompeii  

POMPEII, Italy (AP) -- Frescoes that are nearly 2,000 years old have been unearthed near Pompeii in the remains of what experts say may have been an ancient luxury hotel.

The frescoes were painted shortly before the A.D. 79 volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii, the ancient city's art superintendent, Pier Giovanni Guzzo, said Monday.

One of the best-preserved portrays Calliope, the Greek muse of epic poetry, against a vivid red backdrop.

Others depict Erato, the lyre-playing patron of lyric and erotic poetry, and Urania, the muse of astronomy.

The paintings adorn the walls of a building about 2,000 feet outside the walls of Pompeii, by the side of a modern highway linking Naples and Salerno. The building, discovered in 1959, is believed to have been a hotel with thermal baths.

There were no excavations at the site between 1959 and 1999, when an extension of the highway was announced. Archaeologists then were sent in.

The archaeologist in charge, Salvatore Nappo, said the luxurious building suggests Pompeii was at the peak of its wealth when it and everything around it was buried in lava and volcanic ash.

The frescoes are undergoing restoration.

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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