Body cast on display at the Pompeii ruins
Image: Megan Lomax
Source: Megan Lomax
Question: I will be coming to visit the A Day in Pompeii exhibition when it opens at Melbourne Museum in June 2009, but is there anything relating to Pompeii and Ancient Rome that I can see at the museum before then?
Answer: There are several objects relating to Pompeii and Ancient Rome currently on display at Melbourne Museum.
Probably most well known is the pair of human body casts from the archaeological site of ancient Pompeii currently on display in the Mind & Body Gallery. On August 24, AD 79, the nearby volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted violently, spewing pumice and thick volcanic ash over the town of Pompeii, encasing some of its inhabitants to produce casts of their bodies.
There is also a display case in the main foyer of Melbourne Museum displaying a number of objects relating to the upcoming A Day in Pompeii exhibition. There are a number of examples of material expelled during various eruptions of Mount Vesuvius including volcanic ash, lapilli (small pumice pellets), volcanic tuff and scoria. There is also an image of the House of Vettii within the town of Pompeii after its excavation, and an askos (wine jug) from Pompeii dating from the first century AD.
Furthermore, the Discovery Centre at Melbourne Museum will soon be installing a display of Ancient Roman coins of the kind used in Pompeii until the beginning of the Roman Empire in 27 BC and Imperial coins that circulated in Pompeii between the start of the Empire in 27 BC and the burial of the town in AD 79.
Roman coins often featured gods, buildings, current events, emperors and members of the Imperial family. The coins circulating in Pompeii at the time of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius would have all been struck after the coinage reform of Nero. After the great fire in Rome, Nero reduced the amount of metal in all coins. Older coins found with bodies at Pompeii would have been treasured savings being fearfully moved.
The coin display will be available to view in the Discovery Centre from Thursday 12 February, 2009.