The remains of the 14cm tortoise were found when archaeologists carried out excavations in an area of the city destroyed by an earthquake in 62 that was being rebuilt when Vesuvius erupted 17 years later. The animal was lying under stone and ashes under an already destroyed building.
The turtle was pregnant, which according to the researchers was killed while trying to find a quiet place to lay eggs.
According to the archaeologist Mark Robinson of Oxford University, there are two explanations for why the tortoise is found in this particular place.
One is that it was a pet that might have escaped and gone to the ruins after the great earthquake, he says.
Another explanation, most likely, is that the animal came from the nature surrounding the Roman city, in present-day Italy.
– Pompeii is really destroyed and cannot be rebuilt in all places after the earthquake. The flora and fauna of the surrounding countryside moved into the city.
Finnish doctoral student Jonas Vanhala, who happened to be in Pompeii when the discovery was made, describes it as “amazing.”
– They just removed the shell from the animal, what was visible was the skeleton and the egg. It was a light brown sandy color. I wouldn’t have seen it was an egg if they hadn’t told me.
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