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Pompeian Antiquities

One of the most well-known catastrophes in human history, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. covered the coast with ash and lava and ended an era for Roman resort towns like Pompeii. Though devastating in its day, the eruption encased Pompeii, preserving its art and artifacts for all time.

The city of Pompeii, just outside of the bustling metropolis of Naples, was a relatively wealthy town in the Bay of Naples, dotted with the villas of affluent Romans who needed a vacation escape. This resulted in homes and civic structures that were lavishly decorated and stocked with brilliant furnishings and luxurious objects. Paintings filled the walls, sculptures dotted the entry atria, and art objects, from glass vessels to ornate jewelry worn by the household matron sparkled from room to room.

Artifacts that survive from Pompeii are truly a treasure. They both commemorate the destruction of the town thousands of years ago while also showcasing the talents of ancient Roman artisans. From painted wall fragments to delicate, iridescent glass vases, Pompeian antiquities are beautiful to behold.

Quick Facts

  • The nature of the chemical consistency of the ash and debris jettisoned from Mt. Vesuvius, combined with the immediacy of eruption, meant that many victims and their objects, including foodstuffs, were preserved
  • Pompeii's ruins are accessible today and rank among the most popular destinations for tourists in Italy. A 2010 survey revealed over 2,500,000 visitors walk the streets of the ancient town each year
  • The story of Pompeii and its destruction by Vesuvius was most recently dramatized in a 2014 movie, entitled "Pompeii"; one of its earliest film features was in 1939, with RKO Radio Pictures' "Last Days of Pompeii"

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