West Surrey Area
Museums & Art Galleries
Life and Death
Pompeii and Herculaneum
It was the first trip of the year for the DFAS members
and I was looking forward to it immensely. We all arrived early
prompt getaway: I think we were all eager to get on our way for this
very much publicised exhibition. I had not seen all the recent
programmes on the television but had been told how great they
were. This set the scene for a fantastic day ahead.
We arrived in London in time for coffee and biscuits before the
lecture. The lecture was given by Dr Paul Roberts, the Senior
for the Roman Department. What a lecturer! He gave a
and extremely descriptive talk on what happened during the eruption of
Vesuvius, and how the people may have behaved and felt. He told
of how it had taken five years to organise the exhibition but that the
co-operation of the museum in Naples was tremendous. This
exhibition is the first in London for over 20 years and the first in
the museum for both cities. We saw pictures of the truck
unloading the huge containers that only just fit through the doors and
heard how it all took shape. The hour-long lecture just flashed
and he had us all mesmerised.
The exhibition itself was fascinating, drawing you in to the life of
the everyday people that lived and worked in both Pompeii and
Herculaneum. Items preserved by either being carbonised with the
intense heat that hit Herculaneum or by the ash cloud that took Pompeii
by storm. Anne Mcintyre, my companion, said how it evoked
emotions deep within her. There were some sombre moments when
gazing on the casts left of the inhabitants after being turned to stone
by the ash.
The young boy whose features were still visible and
his clothing still adorning his body, the body having been burnt slowly
but the ash covering and hardening into the cast we see now with only
his skeleton beneath.
The amazing thing that stuck me was I could not believe that all these
items were now over 2000 years old but how the jewellery and other
everyday things like the pots and pans were as if they were just old
fashion items we had found from a few years ago.
The frescos gave an insight into how the people behaved and lived and
how slaves could become freemen. How the Romans thought and
differently to ourselves and how they loved to bring the countryside
into the cities by creating beautiful gardens to sit in.
The whole day was a joy and something that I will never forget.