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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."