01 June, 2013

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum

We had an interesting bank holiday Sunday last week visiting the 'Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum' exhibition at the British Museum. We'd bought out tickets well in advance and were looking forward to it.

The exhibition was busy. The reviews had been very good, so no surprise there. And, indeed, the exhibition was both good and informative, but not absolutely stunning, in my view. The presentation was fine, but not inspired. Rather than telling a story, as the title of the exhibition implies, this felt much more like a standard museum-type exhibition.

However, I did learn some things about Pompeii and Herculaneum that I didn't already know, despite having visited both sites a few years back. For example, I wasn't aware just how much of our knowledge of everyday Roman life is informed by the finds at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Nor was I aware that so many people still remain buried deep under the debris--only a small percentage of the populations have been uncovered.

And the artefacts on display were amazing. Things that particularly caught my eye were a baby's cradle (in tact), a loaf of bread which was perfectly preserved even down to the baker's mark stamped on the side, and a incredibly intricate and beautiful colander.

All of us (kids included) enjoyed the exhibition. Coincidentally, we also enjoyed the lunch that we ate at the British Museum--bought from a gourmet van in the front courtyard and eaten lolling on the grass in the sunshine. We later found out that the catering in the van was supplied by Benugo, who also supply the catering at our local Ashmolean Museum. Small world, it seems--or big company, more accurately!

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