(AGI) Pompeii, March 20 - One of Pompeii's best preserved andmost famous sites, the Villa of the Mysteries, has beenreopened after two years of restoration work. Discoveredpartially in 1909-1910 and completely in 1929-1930 by AmedeoMaiuri, the villa is an extraordinary treasure house of AncientRome's paintings: the vibrantly colourful frescoes and dazzlingmosaics throughout its 70 rooms have regained their originalsplendour thanks to the efforts of specialists and theuniversities of Bologna, Kiel, and Naples' Suor OrsolaBenincasa, who worked under superintendent Massimo Osanna. Thevilla changed purpose with its various owners, starting as aplace of leisure and contemplation for the Istacidii, a noblefamily from the Augustan age, and transformed into a rusticvilla with various adaptations during the first century B.C.The last changes were made after the earthquake in 62 A.D.,with the villa being converted to an agricultural complex forwine production: it remained that way for centuries, set instone by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The villa'scurrent name comes from the large script in the Hall ofMysteries, which features a series of frescoes dominated by thedivine couple of Dionysus and Aphrodite. The world of Dionysusis shown on one wall, while preparations for a maiden's weddingceremony are depicted on the other. Here, more than anywhereelse in the villa, visitors can gaze upon the original coloursafter the layers of protective ash and petrol laid on betweenthe 1950s and 1980s were removed from the frescoes, as theywere causing oxydation and an opaque coating. The restorationwas organised in separate lots to allow the public to see areasunaffected by the work. Following preliminary investigations toidentify the materials and techniques used for the paintings,utilising infrared thermography, ground penetrating radar,ultrasounds, and Raman spectroscopy, microrestoration andmaintenance began. The Hall of Mysteries was cleaned withlasers, the first time the technique has been used on such anwide array of frescoes. The floors and plasters meanwhile wereconsolidated with various materials, including lime mortar withcrushed clay pottery. (AGI). .