A Day in Pompeii

29 07 2010

"Photo of WA Museum"Recently I won tickets for A Day in Pompeii, currently at the WA Museum (don’t you love winning stuff?). So yesterday we caught the train to the city. ‘Twas a quiet and sunny winter day in Perth and grateful I was too for the lack of volcanoes in our vicinity.

The Pompeii visits start with a 7-minute 3D movie of 24 August 79AD, showing the 48 hours that Vesuvius erupted. We followed a highschool group into the theatre and donned our trendy red 3D glasses. The movie is graphic and loud. To someone living in Pompeii at the time, it truly must have seemed like the world was ending.

Apparently around 12000 people fled Pompeii before the major eruptions and ‘only’ 2000 remained behind and were killed instantly when the surge of toxic gas and ash swept over the region.

Walking through the exhibition was eerie, particularly looking at the casts of people’s bodies, including several pairs huddled together. It was terribly sad and I had to keep reminding myself that they were casts and not actual bodies (the casts were made by pouring plaster into voids in the ash). We stood looking at the casts for a long time and talked about who those people might have been. There was something comforting about having their forms preserved, so future-people (us) could remember that they had lived. But I can’t even begin to imagine the terror of their last moments.

There are everyday items on display too, like pieces of plumbing, amphoras, cooking pans etc. (There are an alarming number of lead water containers, can’t have been good for the health.)  I admired the statues and frescoes, but what touched me most were the personal belongings—a little bone comb, and earrings, and bangles. Food too—olive pits, a pomegranate, and a carbonised loaf of bread recovered from the ash.

And, ah, the wonders of modern technology. There are interactive screens set up so visitors can view Pompeii in 360 degrees and look around inside a typical (and surprisingly modern-looking) house.

If you want to see A Day in Pompeii, it’s on at the WA Museum until 12 September 2010. (There is more information about it on the museum’s website.) I recommend it, it was a fascinating morning.




7 responses

29 07 2010

I meant to go and see this when it was here, but didn’t get around to it. I must ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen with the Titanic exhibition that is on now.

29 07 2010

So many disasters to ponder. 😛 I’d like to see the Titanic exhibition too.

6 08 2010

Re the amazingly modern part. I am always surprised when I see what i thought were reasonably modern inventions were actually invented by the Romans or Ancient Greeks or in earlier time periods – ancient geeks maybe.

7 08 2010

It was hard to get my head around just how old some of the items on display were. And I’m still amazed that Pompeii was completely buried and now people can walk through it just like it was. That’s a lot of digging …

19 08 2010
Sean the Blogonaut

I was wondering if this display might make it eastward – or have I already missed that boat.

19 08 2010

Hi Sean,

I’m not sure—but I’m pretty sure it was in VIC at the end of 2009, so it’s quite likely that you’ve missed the boat!

~ Rebecca

19 08 2010
Sean the Blogonaut

Damn it. Need to stop this working gig 🙂

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