Royal Ontario Museum: Pompeii

During my parents stay last week we didn't end up using all of the locations in our Toronto CityPASS. One of the ones we didn't use was for the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Seeing as we visited the ROM back in April when my parents came to visit we didn't think we needed to go again. But after my parents left to go back home I found out that the ROM was putting on an exhibit all about Pompeii. My parents had given me the left over CityPASS tickets so I decided to invite three of my friends to come along with me to see this exhibit. It was an extra $10 to get into the exhibit, but we did save money on buying general admission prices by using the CityPASS.

* Please note that this blog post is very photograph heavy

The Pompeii exhibit was full of history and so much information about the city of Pompeii. One of my favourite things during the exhibit was all the marble busts they had on display. I am always amazed with how much detail is put into the creation of the facial features and hairstyles. I am also amazed by how much information historians can get out of the style of these portraits. For example, the first photograph shows a marble bust that is said "radiates the aura of an imperial princess". The second male bust is said to be of a "middle-aged man, proud of his achievements," all of that just comes from the way his head is turned and how determined his expression looks. The last photograph shows Isis, the Egyptian goddess of fertility.  The picture I've chosen don't even show that much of how detail went into showing her hairstyle. Feel free to click each image to get a closer look.

Going back to my amazement of the people back 2,000 years ago the picture on the left shows the water heating system for the people of Pompeii. There were many different examples of things that the people came up with to better their daily lives. For example, they had samples of different cookware and bakeware that were used and that were quite similar to stuff we still use today to cook and bake with. It is amazing to see that we still use contraptions like this in our everyday lives now. Mind you our water heating system doesn't look like that anymore. Now the picture to the right is just something I found funny. Apparently drinking cups with humorous faces were common in the region of Pompeii. As a girl who has a lot of unique drinking mugs I loved seeing this mug that was used thousands of years ago.

These two photographs shown above are just things that I found pretty. The top photo is of a floor mosaic found in Pompeii. It is said that the craftsman used a lot of tiny cubes of different colour local stone to create this floor tile. The bottom photograph is of a silver mirror that a wealthy Pompeian would have owned. The detail of the tiny cupids on the back of the mirror are just so beautiful to me. You definitely don't see craftsmanship like that too often nowadays.

Now the information about the glasses shown above is quite amazing. It is said that these glasses were not melted by the destruction of Pompeii but because they were most likely trapped somewhere with a more intense heat. Roman glass melts at around 800-1000°C but the archaeologists and geologists believe that the heat that hit Pompeii reached no more than 300°C.

Now this is where it gets truly devastating. Pompeii is said to have had a population of around 12,000 but archaeologists have only discovered 1,150 bodies. The four images shown above are some of the plaster casts archaeologists have made from the remains found of the people of Pompeii. The stories that are shared of who these people could have been is saddening. The first is of a man who was discovered by a latrine in Pompeii, while the second man is one who is said to have been sleeping while all of this was going on. The bottom left image is of three fugitives who were trying to seek shelter when the pyroclastic surge happened. (A pyroclastic surge is a fluidized mass of turbulent gas and rock fragments which is ejected during some volcanic eruptions.) The bottom right image is said to have been of a family who where also trying to seek shelter from the pyroclastic surge but couldn't escape it and tried covering their faces.

Overall, this exhibit was very eye-opening and gave me a little bit more insight on what Pompeii was as a city and about the natural disaster that was a volcano that ended the city. I encourage anybody who wants to check this exhibit out to do so. More information can be found on the ROM website here. I am someone who read every single caption to every single artifact, well almost every single one, and must say the history is so amazing to learn about. Like I mentioned before it still amazes me how much information historians, archaeologists, and geologists can get out of ruins and simple pieces of artwork found.

Have you seen the Pompeii exhibit at the ROM? What was your favourite part?