Here at the Discovery Times Square (DTS), we bring you extraordinary exhibits and unforgettable experiences at an exciting new vibrant space for entertainment, learning and adventure right in the heart of New York City.
Beginning tomorrow, March 4, DTS is launching an incredible exhibit on an equally incredible place: Pompeii, an ancient Roman city whose buildings and citizens were literally frozen in ash by the violent eruption of Vesuvius, Europe’s deadliest volcano.
What makes Pompeii so important? It’s one of the few ancient sites we have where not only temples and other grand buildings survive, but also the small things that actually allow us to understand what daily life was like for everyone from slaves and fishermen to housewives and businessmen some 2,000 years ago. Things that you can’t find in history books, or even most archaeological sites!
Starting tomorrow, this blog will highlight was made the ancient inhabitants of Pompeii so different—and so similar—to us. We’ll be bringing you inside information on the secrets of Pompeii and the making of this remarkable exhibit, as well as exclusive interviews with Pompeii experts on all facets of life.
Come visit Pompeii: The Exhibit and discover over 250 artifacts, including some that have never been seen before in the U.S., including the largest collection of body casts (formed when ash covered and hardened over Vesuvius’ victims) ever put on public display.
But Pompeii: The Exhibit is not just about objects- it’s an incredible immersive experience that puts you right in the middle of the deadly eruption of Vesuvius. The ground will shake beneath your feet- literally!
Individual and group tickets are available for purchase here. Also keep checking in for updates on our special offers.
Celebrate the opening day of Pompeii: The Exhibit here with us tomorrow, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
After a series of fits and starts, it looks like Pompeii is going to get the 21st-century Hollywood treatment courtesy of Paul W.S. Anderson, the director behind Resident Evil.
Already touted as “Titanic with a volcano,” the plot will center around a love story between a slave and his master’s daughter. Requisite plot twist: she’s already been promised to a corrupt Roman senator, while he’s been sold to another owner. Toss in Vesuvius and you get the classic formula for a Pompeii movie with plenty of human drama unfolding under the looming volcano.
There’s plenty of films and television features out there about Pompeii (including some fun 50s pulp flicks and terrible straight-to-video stuff), and two of my personal favorites include:
Last Days of Pompeii (1935)
Somehow, Pontius Pilate (as played by Basil Rathbone!) makes it into this cheesy vintage disaster flick which involves a blacksmith who becomes a corrupt gladiator, while his son joins the fledgling sect of Christianity.The sequences showing the eruption of Vesuvius are pretty good, though—maybe because the film was made by the same producer and production company as King Kong.
Last Days of Pompeii (1959)
Another film with the same title was released in 1959. This Pompeii was written by spaghetti-western master Sergio Leone and starred bodybuilder Steve Reeves, who plays a Roman legionnaire determine to get revenge against the men who murdered his father. Check out a clip of the Vesuvius eruption sequence here.
Have a favorite Pompeii movie? Share it with us!
If you’re fascinated by the way that the eruption of Vesuvius preserved Pompeii as if frozen in time, you’ll want to check out Joya de Cerén, which is frequently called “The Pompeii of Mesoamerica.”
A small farming community in what is now El Salvador, Joya de Cerén was buried in ash around AD 590 following the eruption of the Ilopongo volcano. Ironically—and just like Pompeii—Joya de Cerén was established near the volcano due to the fertile soil that had developed from earlier eruptions.
Unlike Pompeii, it appears that an earthquake shortly before the eruption caused Joya de Cerén’s residents to flee. While there are no casts of bodies, there are plenty of casts of other items, including entire fields of corn!
Read more about Joya de Cerén here.
Footprints preserved in ash from the Avellino eruption
The eruption of Vesuvius in August AD 79, some 1932 years ago, was an amazingly destructive event that buried the city of Pompeii under meters of ash. But did you know that there was an even more violent eruption of Vesuvius roughly 1500 years earlier?
The Avellino eruption buried the Bronze Age settlements of Nola, which was discovered by archaeologists in 2001, and Afragola, which was discovered in 2005.
In Nola, archaeologists have excavated three huts surrounded by fences, along with a large collection of human and animal footprints. At both sites, the footprints preserved in the ash, as well as a dearth of human remains or valuable bronze objects, leads scholars to believe that most people and their livestock had a chance to escape the eruption (caged animals, like the remains of goats found at Nola, weren’t as lucky). The impressions of other items, such as furniture, containers and fabric, give us a rare opportunity to understand what everyday life was like back then.
Since the settlements at Nola and Afragola were significantly smaller than the city of Pompeii, the level of human destruction appears to be much smaller. But the eruption itself was much bigger, and, unlike the AD 79 eruption, reached Naples itself. So when scientists think about the worst-case scenario for the next eruption of Vesuvius, they look at the Avellino eruption…and cross their fingers.
Click on the links for more information on Nola and Afragola.