Do you like volcanic eruptions, natural disasters and history? If so, you’ll love “Pompeii, The Exhibit” at the Arizona Science Center. We went to the exhibit last week, and it’s amazing.
On August 24, 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and many of its inhabitants. The display at the science center lets you see what it was like before, during and after, the eruption.
The first, and largest, part of the exhibit shows what Pompeii was like. You get a real feel for everyday life there by seeing displays covering food, clothes, medical instruments, glassware, fishing, gladiators, art (paintings and sculptures), gods, jewelry and more. You are allowed to take all the photos you want, but no flash photography. What I found interesting is that if you remove electricity from the equation, the 2,000 year old town of Pompeii was almost, and in some cases completely, as advanced as we are today. They had central heating, over 300 fast food booths, slaves who earned a salary and could buy their own freedom, surgical techniques and medicines that are still used today and more.
Next, you go into a 4D theater where a film lets you see what happened to the town over the last day and night of its life. This takes about five minutes, and to enhance the experience there’s smoke and a floor that vibrates in synch with the explosions. That’s the 4D part of the movie.
You then go to the rooms showing several of the body casts of the citizens of Pompeii. It’s a chilling and sobering experience.
I highly recommend seeing this exhibit. It’s enlightening when you see how advanced they were, and humbling when you see how precarious life can be.
Here are just a few items on display at the exhibit.
This statue greets you when you enter the main display area.
This female and male bust are from the 1st century B.C. and are made of bronze and glass (the eyes).
A wild boar attacked by two dogs. Bronze statues from the 1st century A.D.
This style of painting was seen everywhere. Usually painted on plaster.
This portable brazier was used to provide heat on cold nights or mornings.
This Glirarium (large pot) was used to hold dormice, a culinary delicacy. It was covered to make it dark inside so the dormice would hybrinate, to fatten them up. Your looking down at the top where you can see a spiral shelves and two food shelves.
These are all samples of oil lamps. Two faces, a bull’s head and a multilevel lamp.
Scalpels, medical tweezers and a 4 compartment container for medicine. Bronze from the 1st century A.D.
Blue glass bottles, 1st century A.D.
Mirror made of bronze and silver foil, 1st century A.D.
Gold necklace and earrings, 1st century A.D.
Gold bracelet, 1st century A.D.
Marble sculptures of theater masks.
Marble statue of Caligula. About 8 feet tall.
A gladiator’s helmet.
Cast of a child.
Cast of a mother and child. The “boxer” pose happens when a body is exposed to extreme heat, like the pyroclastic flow that hit Pompeii.