Forty years after being hit by a devastating earthquake, a building dubbed a “jewel” of the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii has finally reopened to the public, The Huffington Post reports.
The restoration of the House of Lovers ― reportedly once a brothel and so-called because of a Latin inscription that reads “Lovers like bees live a sweet life like honey. I wish it were so” — was officially completed Tuesday, February 18.
The House of the Orchard and the European Ship House were also reopened Tuesday as the Great Pompeii Project ― a six-year, $113 million initiative to repair and restore further swaths of the site that in 2013 was at risk of being placed on UNESCO’s list of heritage sites in jeopardy ― drew to a close.
Archaeologists first discovered the House of Lovers in 1933. It had been buried in volcanic ash, along with the rest of the historic settlement outside of modern-day Naples, Italy, for almost two millennia following the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.
It was closed for repair in November 1980, however, after suffering severe damage during the 6.5-magnitude Irpinia earthquake that struck the Naples area, killing some 2,735 people.
For centuries Pompeii has helped archaeologists understand what life was like in ancient Rome before Mount Vesuvius spewed volcanic gas, rock, and ash 21 miles into the air to envelop and preserve these sites in 79 CE.