News / Arts & Entertainment

London Exhibit Shows Moving Picture of Pompeii Life, Death

Dog believed to have been buried from the volcano that destroyed Pompii in AD79 (Photo courtesy British Museum)
Dog believed to have been buried from the volcano that destroyed Pompii in AD79 (Photo courtesy British Museum)
Reuters
— An exhibition showing daily life and tragic death in the ill-fated Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum opened in London on Thursday to glowing reviews and the highest advance tickets sales at the British Museum in five years.
       
Over 450 objects, many of which haven't been seen outside Italy, are arranged to show everyday life in the Roman Empire before Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79, burying the two Southern Italian cities in volcanic ash.
       
Paul Roberts, senior curator at the British Museum, said the once bustling urban centers had been brought back to life by items such as bread left in a baker's oven and a baby's crib.
       
"What we see are real people, ordinary cities,'' Roberts told Reuters ahead of the opening of "Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum'', the biggest Pompeii show in London for 40 years.
       
"[These are] not museum artifacts [but] possessions, things that people commissioned, bought, loved, enjoyed, used, handled,'' he said.
       
Onions, almonds and figs were found in drains in Herculaneum while a pot of toothpicks showed the care with which the Romans looked after their teeth.
       
A wall painting from Pompeii pictures a baker and his wife holding writing materials, showing they are literate while their pose suggests they are equal partners, in business and in life.
       
Some items from the smaller, seaside town of Herculaneum were preserved in better condition, buried under hot volcanic material four times the heat of a boiling kettle.
       
"That carbonized wood ... so the seven pieces of furniture we have from Herculaneum are the most special things we have," Roberts said.
       
The furniture includes a linen chest, an inlaid stool, a garden bench, and a crib that still rocks on curved runners.
       
Pompeii was discovered accidentally in the 1590s but excavations did not start until 1748. In the 1860s archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli pioneered a technique of pouring plaster into the cavities left by rotted bodies.
       
In the exhibition, casts show a family of two adults and two children huddled together in their final moments while another shows a dog, arched in distress before the volcano submerged the city that was home to about 15,000 people.
       
"These were the people of Pompeii, people in the moment of their deaths, and that's one of the things that's so moving about Pompeii,'' Roberts said.
       
A spokeswoman for the British Museum said more than 60,000 advance tickets have been sold for the exhibition - which runs until Sept. 29 - the highest number for any show staged in the past five years.
       
Sales have been helped by glowing reviews.
       
"This majestic event will hopefully remind the world that Pompeii is not some tourist attraction to treat shabbily but the world's most revelatory survival of the human past,'' Jonathan Jones wrote in The Guardian.

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."