Stunning Pompeii hunting fresco restored with laser

Top image: Refreshed Pompeii fresco in Casa dei Ceii

A 2,000-year-old painted hunting scene discovered in Pompeii has been painstakingly restored with lasers. However, this Pompeii fresco is not restricted to Roman hunting scenes, but also a range of wild Egyptian beasts associate the site’s owner with the ancient Egyptian cult of Isis.

The ancient hunting scenes featuring lions, leopards and a wild boar were discovered in the garden of Pompeii's “House of the Ceii,” that once belonged to the magistrate Lucius Ceius Secundus.

The faded fresco before it underwent restoration.The faded fresco before it underwent restoration.

The artwork was lost when Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79 AD, burying the cities of Pompeii, Oplontis, and Stabiae under ash and rock while the city of Herculaneum was buried beneath a mudflow. Every single resident instantly died in a 500°C pyroclastic surge that sent hot gasses and volcanic materials at speeds of around 450mph (700 km/h), and at temperatures of 1,000°C. This and many of the Pompeii frescos were almost lost forever.

An Illusionary Artwork Designed To Amplify Space

Lucius Ceius Secundus´s house, the “ Casa dei Ceii ” (House of the Ceii), was first uncovered in 1913–14, but subsequent neglect has caused the one time blazingly colorful fresco to fade. However, now, this exceptional ancient artwork has been restored and protected.

The restoration experts carefully retouched the painted areas of the Pompeii fresco that had been degraded over time, and damaged areas were cleaned with a special laser. And to protect the fresco from future damage from rainwater, special protective measures have also been taken.

Vibrant hunting scene on the restored fresco.Vibrant hunting scene on the restored fresco.

The vibrant hunting scenes were painted around 20-10 BC in what is known as the “Third” or “Ornate” Pompeii style. On the main section of the painting a lion pursues a bull while a leopard pounces on sheep, and a wild boar attacks a herd of deer. A Wanted In Rome article says frescos such as this one “commonly adorned the perimeter walls of Pompeiian gardens and were intended to evoke an atmosphere — often one of tranquility — while also creating the illusion that the area was larger than in reality, much as we use mirrors today.”

In the wild scene, here a leopard pounces on sheep, dogs chase boars, and a lion pursues a bull.In the wild scene, here a leopard pounces on sheep, dogs chase boars, and a lion pursues a bull.

Painting The Ancient Cult Of Isis

Site director Massimo Osanna told  The Times what makes this fresco so special is that it’s complete, which he says is something “rare for such a large fresco at Pompeii.”

Not only did the archaeologists discover images of classical Roman hunting scenes at the Casa dei Ceii, but they also found sections showing “Egyptian-themed landscapes.” Wild beasts from the Nile delta include, for example: crocodiles and hippopotamuses that are shown being hunted by with African pygmies.

Scenes from far and wide adorn other walls as Casa dei Ceii.Scenes from far and wide adorn other walls as Casa dei Ceii.

Furthermore, an ancient ship is shown at sea transporting amphorae (clay liquid containers) which shuttled wines and luxury items around the Med. Therefore, this discovery leads the researchers to speculate that Lucius Ceius Secundus was perhaps associated with the “Cult of Isis,” which they say was popular among Pompeii elites in the city’s final years.

The Mysterious Egyptian Cult of Isis in the Ancient Roman Empire

According to the Temple of Isis Pompeii website the selection process by which priests/priestesses of the Temple of Isis were chosen remains a mystery, however, spiritual traditions maintain that the Goddess Isis herself chose her earthly administrators.

As experts in astrology, interpretation of dreams and conjuring of spirits, the priests and priestesses of the Temple of Isis fasted and practiced abstinence, and they worshiped their goddess several times a day and through the night. After the earthquake that hit Pompeii in 63 AD, one of the very few restored Temples was the Temple of Isis at Pompeii which is today an archaeological site located alongside the Triangular Forum.

The temple of Isis itself was designed for the worship of the cult of the Egyptian goddess by the same name, who appears both as a Roman deity and as her original Egyptian effigy. It is unknown just how deeply Lucius Ceius Secundus was involved with the cult of Isis, but to have commissioned frescos of Egyptian scenes in his garden he must have been somewhat into her.


By Ashley Cowie / Historian and Documentarian

Ashley is a Scottish historian, author and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems, in accessible and exciting ways. His books, articles and television shows explore lost cultures and kingdoms, ancient crafts and artefacts, symbols and architecture, myths and legends telling thought-provoking stories which together offer insights into our shared social history.In his 20's Ashley was based in Caithness on the north east coast of Scotland and walked thousands of miles across ancient Neolithic landscapes collecting flint artefacts, which led to the discovery of significant Neolithic settlements. Having delivered a series of highly acclaimed lectures on the international Science Festival Circuit about his discoveries, he has since written four bestselling non-fiction books. Elected as a member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, incorporated by Royal Charter in 1783, Ashley has been involved in a wide range of historical and scientific research projects which are detailed on this website – 2009 Ashley became resident Historian on STV’s The Hour Show and has since featured as an expert Historian on several documentaries. Ashley’s own documentaries have been watched by an estimated 200 million people and currently air in over 40 countries. NBC’s Universal’s hit-adventure show ‘Legend Quest’ follows Ashley’s global hunt for lost artefacts and is watched by over 5 million viewers in Australia, Asia and Europe every week. In North America, PBS’s ‘Great Estates’ was in Amazon’s top-ten “most downloaded documentaries 2016” and has been watched by an estimated 150 million people.

(Source:; February 26, 2021;
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