Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum ? the British Museum?s 2013 blockbuster exhibition
In Spring 2013 the British Museum will present a major exhibition on the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. This exhibition will be the first ever held on these cities at the British Museum, and the first such major exhibition in London for almost 40 years.
The exhibition will tell the fascinating story of Pompeii and Herculaneum, two cities on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, which were buried by a catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in just 24 hours in AD 79. The event ended the life of the cities but at the same time preserved them until rediscovery by archaeologists nearly 1700 years later. Through the excavation of these cities archaeologists have been able to piece together a unique insight into Roman life.
The exhibition will give visitors a taste of the daily life of the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, from the bustling street to the family home. It will display everyday items such as the carbonated loaf of bread that was put in the oven in AD79 and not taken out until the 1930s. It will explore the lives of individuals in Roman society ? businessmen, powerful women, freed slaves and children ? rather than the classic figures of films and television, like emperors, gladiators and legionaries. One example of this material is a famous wall painting from Pompeii showing the baker Terentius Neo and his wife, holding writing materials showing they are literate and cultured. Importantly their pose and presentation suggests they are equal partners, in business and in life.
Six pieces of wooden furniture will be among the 250+ loans given by the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii. These items were carbonised by the high temperatures of the ash that engulfed the city and are extremely rare. One of the most astonishing and moving pieces is a baby?s crib that still rocks on its curved runners.
The exhibition will include casts from in and around Pompeii of some of the victims of the eruption. A family of two adults and their two children are huddled together, just as in their last moments under the stairs of their villa. The most famous of the casts on display is of a dog, fixed forever at the moment of its death as the volcano submerged the cities.
Admission charge ?15. Tickets can be booked online at?www.britishmuseum.org?or +44 (0) 20 7323 8181. Opening hours 10am?5.30pm Saturday to Thursday and 10am?8.30pm Fridays