Mystery of the ‘Pompeii Lakshmi’

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When Mt Vesuvius famously entombed Pompeii in volcanic ash in 79 CE, it buried a mystery that would stir a debate among Indian scholars more than 2,000 years later. In the early 20th century, amid the ruins of this ancient Roman city, archaeologists unearthed an exquisite figurine that resembled the Indian Goddess Lakshmi.
The statuette, standing 25 cm high and carved from ivory, is referred to as ‘Pompeii Lakshmi’ and was found in a wooden chest along with sundry objects in a private home in Pompeii. What was a Hindu goddess, or her likeness, doing so far away from India, in this wealthy Mediterranean city?

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