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Archaeology & History

Tourist returns rocks taken from Pompeii due to fears over 'curse'

By T.K. Randall
January 21, 2024 · Comment icon 4 comments
The streets of Pompeii.
The streets of Pompeii. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Bruno Rijsman
For years, the city of Pompeii has been associated with stories of bad luck inflicted on anyone who removes anything from the site.
Situated near modern-day Naples, Italy, the ancient Roman city of Pompeii was buried in ash and dust when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, resulting in the deaths of thousands of its inhabitants.

Today, the ruins remain an important archeological site due to the fact that the ash preserved everything and everyone that was unfortunate enough to be there at the time.

The people of the city can still be seen there now, frozen in time like statues, offering a unique glimpse into the daily lives of those who resided there as well as a grim reminder of what happened to them.

For this reason, visitors are asked to be respectful when visiting the city.

It is also the reason, perhaps, why rumors of a curse have arisen there over the years.

The story goes that anyone who removes anything from the site risks being struck down by bad luck, something that many people claim to have experienced.
So great is the belief in this curse, in fact, that quite a few people who did take rocks from the city as souvenirs have since returned them in the hope of relieving themselves of their misfortune.

One such instance was recently shared by Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the archaeological park in Pompeii, who posted up a note that accompanied some rocks that someone had sent back.

"I didn't know about the curse," the letter reads. "I didn't know that I should not take any rocks. Within a year, I got breast cancer. I am a young and healthy female, and doctors said it was just 'bad luck'."

"Please accept my apology and these pieces."

Many similar letters and returns have been received by officials over the years.

So could the curse be real ? Perhaps... but it's more likely that a curse such as this only becomes real to someone who happens to have convinced themselves that they have been inflicted with it.

Source: IFL Science | Comments (4)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by ShadyGroves 1 month ago
I did something similar back in the 1990s with two pieces of coal from the Titanic. The official salvage company that owns the rights to recover Titanic artifacts. RMS Titanic LLC as part of fund raising offered recovered Titanic coal from the boilers. At the time you could own a piece of authentic Titanic coal 1x1 inch recovered from the site for a donation of 10 dollars each. Well, I got two. It didn't bother me at all (at that time.) So I kept the pieces in a display case in my bedroom until I could find a proper place to display them. Man oh Man the hellish nightmares I started to have wor... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by Piney 1 month ago
 Should've called a Indian. When a Catholic exorcist or newage psychic fails they all call a Indian. I was a tribal cultural resources specialist who had Native remains all over my house and office and never felt a thing. So next time get on the phone with your local tribe and one of us will come out and clean your haunted piece of 300 million year old petrified peat moss right up for a fee of one bottle of Mad Dog 2020 and a pack of Newports.
Comment icon #3 Posted by susieice 1 month ago
When I went to the Titanic Exhibition at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, they were also holding a fund raiser. I bought a necklace that has a piece of coal from the debris field in a little cage locket for $25. I've never taken it out of the box and never wore it. I have it put away with some of my other jewelry. I haven't experienced any issues, yet, and it's been about 10-15 years since I got it.  Thanks for the info Piney! If I need to I'll give you a shout out.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Piney 1 month ago
Well, you know I'm right over the Commodore Barry bridge and have a full inventory of red ochre and cedar smudge. People in PA get a 10 percent discount in memory of William Penn. 

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