A Day in Pompeii

1
Cast of a Dog

Cast of a dog
Cast of a dog. Photo by Ethan Lebovics.

An exhibit of artifacts from the ancient Italian city of Pompeii, and therefore called A Day in Pompeii, is spending two years traveling to 4 U.S. cities. The exhibit includes more than 250 artifacts, including wall-sized frescoes, gold coins, jewelry, grave goods, marble and bronze statuary.

On August 24, 79 A.D., Mt. Vesuvius erupted, covering the nearby area, including the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, in volcanic ash and lava. There had been signs preceding it, like earthquakes, but most people were still there going about their daily lives until it was too late. Some lucky ones got out, since (the elder) Pliny put the military fleet into service for evacuation. A naturalist and curious, as well as a Roman official (a prefect), Pliny stayed too late and died helping others escape. His nephew, the younger Pliny wrote about this catastrophe and his uncle in his letters. See Pliny the Elder and the Volcanic Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Casts in A Day in Pompeii were taken of actual human and animal victims in their death positions.

Pictures and their descriptions come from the Science Museum of Minnesota site.

The cast of a dog that died as a result of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. You can see a bronze studded collar. Archaeologists believe the dog was chained outside the House of Vesonius Primus, a Pompeiian fuller.

2
Pompeiian Garden Fresco

Pompeiian Garden Fresco
Pompeiian Garden Fresco. Photo by Ethan Lebovics

This fresco is broken into three sections, but once covered the back wall of the summer triclinium of the House of the Gold Bracelets in Pompeii.

Photo and its description come from the Science Museum of Minnesota site.

3
Cast of a woman

Cast of a woman
Cast of a woman. The Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali-Soprintendenza archaeologica de Pompei

This body cast shows a young woman who died of suffocation from fumes and falling ash. There are imprints of her clothes on the upper part of her back, hips, stomach, and arms.

4
Hippolytus and Phaedra Fresco

Hippolytus and Phaedra Fresco
Hippolytus and Phaedra Fresco. Photo by Ethan Lebovics

The Athenian hero Theseus had many adventures. During one, he woos the Amazon queen Hippolyte and through her has a son named Hippolytus. In another adventure, Theseus kills King Minos' stepson, the Minotaur. Theseus later marries Minos' daughter Phaedra. Phaedra falls for her stepson Hippolytus, and when he rejects her advances, she tells her husband Theseus that Hippolytus raped her. Hippolytus dies as a result of Theseus' anger: Either Theseus directly kills his own son or he receives divine assistance. Phaedra then commits suicide.

This is one example from Greek mythology of the saying "Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned."

5
Cast of a seated man

Cast of a seated man
Cast of a seated man. Photo by Ethan Lebovics

This cast is a man who sat against a wall with his knees up to his chest as he died.

6
Medallion Fresco

Medallion Fresco
Medallion Fresco. Photo by Ethan Lebovics

Pompeiian fresco of a young woman with an older woman behind her in a double frame of green leaves.

7
Aphrodite

Aphrodite Statue
Aphrodite Statue. Statue owner: Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali-Soprintendenza archaeologica de Pompei

A marble statue of Venus or Aphrodite that once stood in a villa garden in Pompeii.

The statue is called Aphrodite, but it is possible that it should be named Venus. Although Venus and Aphrodite overlapped, Venus was a vegetation goddess for the Romans as well as a love and beauty goddess, like Aphrodite.

8
Bacchus

Statuette of Bacchus
Statuette of Bacchus. Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali-Soprintendenza archaeologica de Pompei

A bronze statuette of Bacchus. The eyes are ivory and a glass paste.

Bacchus or Dionysus is one of the favorite gods because he is responsible for wine and wild fun. He also has a dark side.

9
Detail of Garden Column

Detail from a Pompeiian column
Detail from a Pompeiian column. Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali-Soprintendenza archaeologica de Pompei

This stone carving from the top of a garden column shows the Roman god Bacchus. There are two images of the god showing different aspects of his divinity.

10
Hand of Sabazius

Hand of Sabazius
Hand of Sabazius. Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita Culturali-Soprintendenza archaeologica de Pompei

A bronze sculpture that includes the vegetation god Sabazius.

Sabazius is also associated with Dionysus/Bacchus.