A Day in Pompeii opens a window into another time
The Romans living in Pompeii in AD 79 were utterly unprepared for the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which buried the city in ash -- and preserved it almost untouched for 1,700 years. In A Day at Pompeii, which opened this past weekend at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, you can get up close to artifacts that are close to two thousand years old, and capture the day-to-day life of an ancient society.
William Starling/Denver Museum of Nature and Science Body cast of a young woman from A Day in Pompeii.
- Photos: Lizards & Snakes at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- John Bonath on A Strange Beauty at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
- 100 Colorado Creatives: Dr. David Grinspoon, Denver Museum of Nature and Science
"They're real artifacts from Pompeii that have been uncovered, and they're spectacular," says Samantha Richards, an educator at the museum. "To me, the most compelling thing is that these are objects that were part of people's lives almost 2,000 years ago in Pompeii, and they're not that different from things we have in our lives. There are pots that would have been used to store makeup, and a comb and mirrors that could have belonged to a woman in Pompeii who liked to put makeup on and fix her hair before leaving the house, just like women today. It humanizes the event, and the artifacts make you think about the person they belonged to."
Eric Workman A display of coins found in the ashes, from base metals to gold, many perfectly preserved.
The exhibit includes touch carts and historial re-enactors who help bring the city to life, as well as audio tours for families and adults in both Spanish and English that provide additional content. Apart from the artifacts of daily life -- which include dice sets, lead pipes and plumbing equipment, furniture, religious items, cooking implements and more -- there also are casts of the bodies that were found buried in ash, some even capturing the folds of clothing on their bodies. And the artwork on display is beautifully preserved and abundant.
Frescoes were commonly used to decorate the walls of private homes and public places during the period, and the exhibit includes many prime examples.
Amber Taufen Sisyphus, Bacchus and Ariadne detail in a fresco at A Day in Pompeii
There are also several sculptures, from marble busts like this to small cast idols of various household deities.
William Starling/Denver Museum of Nature and Science A marble bust from A Day in Pompeii