Exhibition brings doomed town to life

Exhibition brings doomed town to life

LONDON - The Associated Press
Exhibition brings doomed town to life

A man found by archaeologists in volcanic rubble is at the exhibition. AA photo

Pompeii is the little Roman town that became a byword for sudden, violent death. A new exhibition at the British Museum wants it to be equally famous for raucous, exuberant life.

Most visitors will know how residents of Pompeii and its neighbor Herculaneum died - in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The volcano, long thought dormant, belched out a superheated cloud of fast-moving gas and debris that incinerated residents where they stood and preserved the towns as museums of Roman life, frozen in time.

“Pompeii and Herculaneum were ordinary towns, but it was an extraordinary disaster,” said Vanessa Baldwin, assistant curator of the exhibition. “It was a tragedy, but it preserved them for us.”

Pompeii’s extraordinary end still fascinates, making it one of the world’s most-visited ancient sites. “Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum,” which opened yesterday and will run to Sept. 29, looks set to be one of the museum’s biggest-ever hits. It has sold 50,000 advance tickets, and will reach an even bigger audience when a live event in June is broadcast to hundreds of movie theaters across Britain.

 It aims to un-freeze the picture, bringing to life a vibrant society completely unaware that disaster was about to strike.