Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum – review

Monday, March 25, 2013 - 19:30 in Paleontology & Archaeology

British Museum, LondonThe people of Pompeii cower in agony at the close of this extraordinary exhibition. In one chilling tableau an entire family – husband, wife and two children – lie together in positions of extreme pain and terror. The man and woman have their arms raised, fists clenched, as they brace against the extreme heat that hit this vainly sheltering little group when the volcano Vesuvius erupted in AD79. The children are even more pitiable. One is trying to get up out of the dying mother's lap. Another lies nearby, with a clearly preserved and mercifully tranquil-looking face.The ash that buried Pompeii preserved its people. When the lost city started to be excavated in the 18th century, cavities were found to bear spooky imprints of faces, flesh, clothes. The 19th-century archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli discovered how to pour plaster of paris into the recesses to create the terrible, beautiful statues...

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