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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK
Pompeii reveals ancient luxury hotel
Pompeii tourists
Modern-day visitors to Pompeii gaze at grisly exhibits
By David Willey in Rome

Italian archaeologists have discovered the remains of a luxury inn just outside the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

The find was made during preparations for the widening of the main motorway linking Naples with the south of Italy, which skirts the ruins of the old settlement.

A dig carried out during the motorway's construction 40 years ago revealed the building with a few wall paintings, which were removed.

This year's excavation has revealed that the building was the ancient equivalent of a five-star centrally heated hotel with its own private spa complex attached.


Pompeii dead
Volcanic ash buried these Pompeii citizens
Five private dining rooms have been excavated, and each had couches for diners, a small fountain in the middle of the room, and exquisite wall paintings.

One of the dining rooms shows evidence of a picture window which in ancient times looked out onto a river.

Next door was the kitchen with a four-metre-long counter for the cooking and preparation of food.

Volcanic catastrophe

Slabs of cut marble were stacked in a corner, suggesting work on the building was continuing when Pompeii was suddenly buried by volcanic ash and mud from Vesuvius in August 79 AD.

Archaeologists, working ankle-deep in water on the site, believe the hotel was used by wealthy businessmen visiting Pompeii from across the Mediterranean.

Water infiltration and construction work on the motorway mean the excavations will have to be covered again in two months.

The private dining rooms will be reconstructed in a museum.

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13 Jun 98 | Europe
Ancient Rome uncovered
30 Mar 00 | Europe
Roman erotica for public view
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