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Pompeii reconstructed at the British Museum

A brand new show that will take place at the British Museum is to include some amazing objects that have survived for 2000 years since the volcanic disaster that devastated the Italian city of Pompeii. As you walk around Pompeii, you will see the biggest crowds gathered in front of a series of poignant plaster casts of Roman who weren’t killed by the lava but instead by the fierce heat and fumes that engulfed them before the lava hit.

You cannot help but feel an immediate and agonising sympathy for these poor dead Italians which their bodies hunched in terror, even though they met their demise nearly 2000 years ago. To sum it up, it is the human element that makes the story of Pompeii so compelling, and this is what will also make next Spring’s spectacular as successful as the last Pompeii exhibition to take place here, which was one of the 1970’s greatest shows.

When mighty Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and decimated the city that sat at its foot, the intense heat and lava, through some miracle, actually preserved entire houses and streets as well as erotic frescoes, sculptures and mosaics. As fascinating as this is, it is still the human element of the story that ensures that the grip the Pompeii story has on the world’s imagination will never diminish.

Drawing inspiration from those collections on display in Pompeii and Naples, the show at the British Museum will include stunning survivals among the 250 exhibits on display. Many of these have never been outside of Italy before, including delicate ivory panels, intricate marble reliefs and a very moving wall painting depicting the baker Terentius Nero with his wife.

From Herculaneum, the smaller seaside town next to Pompeii, there are several exhibits that were carbonised by the boiling ash which swamped the town. These include pieces of wooden furniture including an inlaid stool, a linen chest, a garden bench and perhaps the most heart wrenching, a baby’s crib still on its rockers.


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