Back in March, the British Museum opened a landmark exhibition on Pompeii and Herculaneum – the two Roman cities buried in volcanic ash after an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
In the months since, it’s received substantial acclaim and been attended by thousands of spellbound visitors. Unfortunately, this won’t be for much longer – Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum comes to an end next month, meaning interested parties who haven’t yet visited need to book the montcalm london marble arch hotel with haste.
Sponsored by Goldman Sachs, the exhibition represents a close collaboration between the British Museum and the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii. It’s been almost 40 years since a similar show graced London and many new discoveries have taken place since, so many of the artefacts featured are appearing in the UK for the first time.
In total, more than 250 exhibits are on display in the museum’s Reading Room. They run from finely sculpted marble reliefs to wooden furniture – all breathtakingly preserved thanks to the process of carbonisation brought about by immersion in high-temperature volcanic ash.
Back when they prepared the show, curators made a conscious decision to avoid the aspects of the Roman Empire so ubiquitous thanks to film and television – the gladiators, emperors and legionaries. Instead, they’ve focused on domestic life and looked at the common experiences of businessmen, homemakers and children.
“The domestic space is the essential context for people’s lives and allows us to get closer to the Romans themselves,” the museum explains.
For instance, one particular highlight is a wall painting of Pompeii baker Terentius Neo and his wife – an exquisite relief that shows them both holding writing materials, denoting they are literate and cultured members of society.
Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum runs until September 29th and advance booking is essential. Tickets can be purchased from the British Museum’s website and cost £15 per person; a concessionary rate of £12.50 is also available.