Escape from Pompeii

Escape from Pompeii
Photograph: supplied Fountain head in the form of a satyr from Pompeii.

Learn an untold story from one of history’s most famous natural disasters

Many know of the tragic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD that buried the Italian cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum under volcanic ash and debris. The cities and their residents were preserved for almost 2,000 years under the Earth’s surface, and have since become tourist destinations in their own right. But it's a little-known story of bravery that will soon take centre stage in an upcoming exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

The ANMM is hosting a new international exhibition titled Escape from Pompeii that will reveal the untold story of a dramatic rescue attempt from the Roman navy that followed one of the world’s most devastating natural disasters.

The story is told through the words of Pliny the Elder, the Roman Navy’s fleet commander, and his nephew Pliny the Younger, a Roman politician and author who witnessed the event and created the only surviving first-hand accounts of the disaster.

This exhibition will bring rare artefacts from Pompeii, Herculaneum and sites around the Bay of Naples to Australia for the first time. It will also draw on the collections of some of Italy’s leading institutions, including the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Parco Archeologico dei Campi Flegrei and Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei to tell the story of how the Roman navy attempted to evacuate people affected by the eruption.

Visitors will see everyday objects recovered from Pompeii, including jewellery, lamps, tableware, mirrors and even perishable items like bread, wheat and figs, all remarkably preserved in the ash and debris. Body casts of five victims of the eruption will be included in the exhibition, captured during their final moments and preserved in the ash.

By: Rebecca Russo


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