Life and Death: Pompeii and Herculaneum

Mosaic of a Pompeii guard dogImage from [x]

What is Life and Death: Pompeii and Herculaneum?

Preserved under ash, the cities lay buried for just over 1,600 years, their rediscovery providing an unparalleled glimpse into the daily life of the Roman Empire. From the bustling street to the intimate spaces of a Roman home, this major exhibition will take you to the heart of people’s lives in Pompeii and Herculaneum.’ – The British Museum

Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79; in a space of a day a two cities in the Bay of Naples, southern Italy, were buried under metres of ash. The cities Pompeii and Herculaneum are known for this tragic event, however this exhibition explores not only the death of these two cities and its inhabitants but also the life in these societies before the ashes of Mount Vesuvius consumed the land.

Historians and archaeologists are able to discover so much about these societies as the ashes preserved the form of  the objects and people it buried. The excavation began in the 18th century and soon after it was discovered that the empty cavities of what were once people could be used as mould. This new development meant that a lot more could be discovered about the way in which people died and who they were.


The exhibition covers the large domed exhibition space at The British Museum, it is closely laid out like a Roman house and each room has relevent artefacts on display. The arfefacts are a varied and show Pompeii and Herculaneum to be thriving cities.

The ‘life’ section of this exhibiton was very vast and informative and there was a clear division between the ‘life’ and ‘death’ sections. What was a bright and white space with sounds in the backround (Which I wasn’t the biggest fan of) soon turns into a dark room, the darkness of the roon relfect the sombreness of the exhibits. Here are the casts of the people who were engulfed by the ashes and later turned into statues. What was interesting was the common pose in which they died in; the ‘boxing pose is said to be a result of the intense heat that contacted the muscles and cleanched the fits of the dead.

This exhibition gives a different perspective to a society that is known to be a victim on a volcanic eruption and is a great summer exhibtion that isn’t too acadamicly heavy but very educational and informative.

Life and death Pompeii and Herculaneum is on until the 29 September 2013. Advance booking is. essential

Entry fees apply (Adults £15, Under 16s and members free, Concessions available) 


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More information
The Guardian


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