Saturday, June 13, 2015

ROM's Pompeii: 9 proofs that things haven't changed much in 2,000 years!

When in ROM... Visit the Pompeii exhibition!

The new exhibition Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano will be at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) until January 3, 2016. It is your chance to see 200 artifacts from this ancient city frozen in time following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Year 79.

It is obviously fascinating to see casts of people who perished in Pompeii, and watch the eruption simulation in a dark room. It is equally impressive to see jewelry, portrait statues, and even glassware so well preserved.

But this is not what we truly enjoyed (apart from the fact that this exhibition is entirely bilingual!) about this time capsule of the 20-km wide city of 12,000 (as big as Leslieville in Toronto, which hosts a population of 25,000).

What really caught our attention (I was visiting with my 22-year old son), was similitude between Year 79 and 2015 in terms of behaviors and values (better appreciated by children 10 years and older).

Political PR
A mural was found, depicting politicians running for office, offering bread to the crowd.

Product placement
The mural was located within the baker's shop! (There were 30 bakeries in town.)

Action figures
Gladiators had action figures!

There were advertisements painted on the walls to promote the games in Pompeii. In the one shown in the exhibition, we can read: 
"Lucretius Satrius Valens will provide 20 pairs of gladiators, and his son, 10 pairs, to fight at Pompeii, on April 8 to 12. There will be proper wild-animal hunts and awnings."

Two magistrates financed the construction of Pompeii's 20,000-seat amphitheatre.

A mural illustrates holligans from Year 59 involved in a partisan battle that got so violent that even NERO (Roman emperor at the time, know for his cruelty) banned gladiator combats for 10 years!

Art collectors
We are told that the orator Lucius Crassus paid 100,000 sesterces for a set of two cups chased by the artist Mentor. Based on the information found in other parts of the exhibition, we calculated that 100 sesterces equal one gold coin.  Knowing that a gold coin weighted 7.96 grams and that the current price of gold is $1175 per once, we figured that the two cups would now be worth $300,000. 

We saw a grafitti of musicians at a gladiator fight in a town near Pompeii, etched on a tomb in the nearby cemetery...

On a vase containing garum, we can read: "The flower of the flower of mackerel garum, made by Scaurus, from the workshop of Agathopus."

Sex in the City
In a secluded part of the exhibition (easy to bypass if visiting with children, just around the corner from the "Early warning signs?"wall), you'll find a kinky little X-rated section!

Related posts:
What you'll like, what your kids will like 1
What you'll like, what your kids will like 2

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