Historic exhibition to display relics of everyday Roman life

Dozens of objects recovered from the ruins of Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum will go on show outside Italy for the first time at a new exhibition at the British Museum.

The two cities on the Bay of Naples were wiped out by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and the show, which runs from March until September next year, will feature objects found in their ruins.

Curator Paul Roberts said the 250 objects would illustrate the domestic lives of the population. “These are not extraordinary cities, they die in an extraordinary way, but they are ordinary cities in Roman terms. That’s why they are so important because we can look at them and say we have a pretty good idea what was going on in other Roman cities.”

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He said the heat of the 400 to 500C volcanic avalanche that buried Herculaneum had preserved many objects including furniture and food. Six pieces of carbonised furniture, including a crib which still rocks on its runners, will be lent to the Museum in “a world first”. “A loaf of bread that was put in the oven in AD79 and came out in the 1930s” complete with the namestamp of the slave who baked it will be displayed too as will the body casts of a family of two adults and two children who died huddled together under the steps of their villa, and a pet dog.

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