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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Pompeii's erotic past revealed
An erotic fresco in Lupanare, Pompeii
Each fresco reveals a different sex scene
Hundreds of tourists have been queuing in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy, to gain entry to one of the city's most extravagant brothels.

The 2,000-year-old building, featuring erotic fresco paintings, has been re-opened after a costly restoration.

The Lupanare - from the Latin word "lupa" for prostitute - is regarded as one of Pompeii's main attractions.

The town, by the slopes of Mount Vesuvius near Naples, was destroyed by a catastrophic eruption in AD79.

The eruption helped preserve the city, allowing insights into life under the Romans.

Prostitute specialities

In those times, prostitution was not illegal. Sex workers were often slaves, and many came from Greece.

Tourists queue outside brothel. Picture by David Willey
The brothel is becoming one of Pompeii's star attractions

Some of their names and those of their clients are still visible - scrawled on the walls of the small cubicles where the sex workers took their customers.

The erotic frescoes painted above each door of the two-storey brothel are believed to suggest the prostitute's speciality.

According to archaeologists, sex workers charged the equivalent of the price at that time of eight glasses of red wine.

The BBC's David Willey in Pompeii says the site is attracting considerable interest from tourists.

One guide told him while there was not much to see in the brothel, there were "a lot of things to imagine".

The restoration has cost $250,000 (200,000 euros; 134,000) and taken one year.


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