POMPEII: Life in a Roman Town 79CE | National Musuem of Singapore

POMPEII: Life in a Roman Town 79CE

16 Oct 2010 -23 Jan 2011

National Museum of Singapore

On 24 August 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the roman town of Pompeii and its neighbours – Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae and Boscoreale – in the southern Italian region of Campania with volcanic mud, ash and pumice. All the town perished within two days and were only rediscovered in the 18th century.

This exhibition features 279 artefacts on loan from the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei, Italy. This exhibition begins with an encounter with the body casts of the victims found in Pompeii. The body casts on display are not actual bodies but cast of the shapes of victims at the moment of their deaths.

“… they are human beings seen in their agony. This is not art, it is not imitation; these are their bones, the remains of their flesh and their clothes mixed with plaster, it is the sadness of the death that characterizes body and form. I see their wretchedness. I hear their cries as they call to their mothers, and I see them fall and writhe …” said Luigi Settembrini. 

Once I see this quote, I feel that it is quite scary that the body casts I saw are still having connection to them although the body cast they are not the actual body. And when I looked at this quote, I can really feel the agony of them during the disaster.


After that, I went to see the body casts that are being exhibited in the museum. The picture above is the body cast that impressed me the most. It is a man who is crouching down to protect himself during the eruption of Mount Vesusvius. When I looked at it, it just looked like a real person covered with plaster and sitting in front of me. I can feel the essence of human from him. That’s the reason why I didn’t dare to take the photos of him.

 After the whole exhibition, I realized how dangerous and horrific natural disasters are. Just like the eruption of Mount Vesusvius which happened in Pompeii. It makes me think of the natural disasters that happened recently like the Haiti earthquakes, Sichuan earthquakes and the snow disaster in Europe. All of these disasters are the gripes of the earth and these have threatened our human lives. When is the next Pompeii coming? Could we prevent it from happening?

Reported by Jiamin


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