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The Lap of Luxury Volume 54 Number 3, May/June 2001
by Judith Harris and Angela M.H. Schuster

A resplendent seaside resort with magnificent frescoes may have served as a hospitality center for Roman merchants.

Imagine spending a day luxuriating in a Roman health spa by the Bay of Naples. In the evening you dine on fresh fish washed down by a fine wine from grapes grown on Mount Vesuvius served by fair young maidens in a lavishly frescoed dining room. Such would have been the experience of a businessman enjoying a stay at the inn at Agro Murecine, destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79 and discovered during a highway widening project just south of Pompeii early last year (see "Five-Star Inn with Great Art," July/August 2000, pp. 14-15).

More than four decades after the first evidence of the inn and spa came to light following the construction of the Naples-Pompeii-Salerno highway, archaeologists have made a number of new discoveries that are providing a window onto commercial activities on the Bay of Naples during the Roman period.

Judith Harris is the author of a forthcoming book, Glory and Plunder: The Second Life of Ancient Pompeii, that chronicles the excavation of the Roman resort. Angela M.H. Schuster is senior editor of ARCHAEOLOGY.

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© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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