News / Arts & Entertainment

Pompeii Exhibit Tells Story of Roman-era Disaster

Pompeii Exhibit Tells Story of Roman-era Disasteri
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 03, 2014 8:34 PM
One of the worst natural disasters in recorded history, the destruction of Pompeii by a volcano nearly 2,000 years ago, has often been the subject of Hollywood drama. Now the California Science Center is presenting the history, and the science, behind the tragedy. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles.
Mike O'Sullivan
One of the worst natural disasters in recorded history, the destruction of Pompeii by a volcano nearly 2,000 years ago, has often been the subject of Hollywood drama.  Now the California Science Center is presenting the history, and the science, behind the tragedy.  
 
Mt. Vesuvius unleashed fiery gases and scorching ash on August 24th in 79 A.D.  Visitors to the California Science Center watch a computer-generated film reconstructing the tragedy.

The disaster has been shown on screen many times, in a short 1907 French documentary, an Italian feature from 1913, and in later Hollywood treatments, including this year's epic Pompeii.

Archeologist Kenneth Lapatin says hot ash preserved the outlines of the victims, and kept intact many everyday items that surrounded them.

“When we go to Rome, we have the glorious shells of great imperial buildings.  What Pompeii gives us is something we do not get in the literary sources, which is the everyday, the domestic, the simple," said Lapatin.

Including the coins and artwork, household gods, work tools and cooking utensils.

Pompeii was a small commercial city away from the ancient Roman centers of power, and its neighboring community Herculaneum was a Mediterranean resort.  Both were buried in the eruption.  Diane Perlov of the California Science Center says they still hold a fascination.

“It was luxurious, it was high living, and then it was just wiped off the face of the earth all at once.  There is something very mythical about that story," said Perlov.

Lapatin says the film Pompeii, released in February, brought that drama to the screen with a mix of fact and fiction.

“The latest Pompeii film, I think, did a really good job of capturing urban topography.  They did flights over the site and they computer-reconstructed the city.  The volcano, I think they did a good job of.  They did not have a lot of lava.  They had volcanic gasses and clouds and mudslides," he said.

That science is explained at the Center's exhibit, along with a fascinating glimpse into the everyday lives of these ancient Romans; their medical tools, art works, and the weapons and armor used by gladiators.  About 150 items are on loan from the Naples National Archeological Museum.

California Science Center president Jeff Rudolph says there is a message in the exhibit.

“The forces of nature are incredibly strong and we have learned to live with them, but they can have catastrophic consequences," said Rudolph.

Pompeii was rediscovered in the 18th century buried beneath the ash, with haunting images that stare out from its art work.  Kenneth Lapatin says that faces from the past speak to modern viewers.

“We see ourselves in the past, and that is why for 250 years, Pompeii since its rediscovery has been incredibly popular and exhibitions like this one are so exciting," he said.

And why the drama of Pompeii still intrigues us.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."