Pompeii Live from the British Museum

published on June 30, 2020

Hello and welcome from the British
Museum in London where we're delighted

that you're joining us from all over the
world I hope you're well settled in your

seats and ready for your own private view
of the exhibition of the summer

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum

As we take you through the exhibition
we'll be traveling to southern Italy

close on 2,000 years ago And with the
help of a brilliant line-up of world-class

experts we'll meet the men and women who lived there and tell the terrible story

of how they died in the cataclysmic
volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in

AD seventy-nine

We're going to bring their world alive
through the extraordinary objects that they left behind

And we'll come right up to date
with the very latest discoveries and the

work that is still going on that helps these
people speak to us across the centuries

Welcome to Pompeii from the British

Feminae doctissimae Ladies and
gentlemen I have great pleasure in

declaring this wonderful exhibition open
Thank you very much

The British Museum's life and death in
Pompeii and Herculaneum,

has been over five years in the making

It's involved an enormous amount of painstaking

research, collaboration, and planning And
the movement of priceless and

irreplaceable objects across Europe

The curator of the exhibition Paul
Roberts, who's with us tonight, has been

at the center a huge team of experts
from the British Museum

All focused on creating an unforgettable
experience that we can now bring to you


Well here we are in the in the heart of
the exhibition and with the director of

the British Museum Neil MacGregor

Now Neil what sort of landmark is this for the Museum?

Well thanks to the marvels of
satellite transmission it's a great

landmark What we wanted to do was to
allow as many people as possible to come

to visit this exhibition with these
extraordinary objects But to visit in

a way that you can't normally To visit
it in the company of world experts

Because it's experts that make things
come to life

They make objects speak So we've got
this wonderful lineup this evening of

some of the greatest Roman scholars of
the world Some of the friskiest Roman

scholars of the world including you, Betty,
to take us round

Thank you so much
I have to say I would not miss this for the world

Because I think I'm right in
saying aren't I that the British

Museum's never actually hosted a
Pompeii exhibition before?

No this is the first exhibition on Pompeii But it's not just
on Pompeii, it's also about Herculaneum

The neighbor city the slightly smaller
city but just as interesting just as

revealing And the colleagues in the
museums in Pompeii, Herculaneum and

Naples have been so generous that we've
been able to put together here a range

of objects that have never been together
before and we'll probably never see

together again in our lifetime

Okay Now what is the story Neil that you want this exhibition to tell people?

I think we want to use these objects to let the

visitor get close to a particular set of
people at a particular moment

The moment of course is 79 AD

The Roman Empire is in full flower

Here in London we've just joined the club so to speak

In the last 30 years we've become
members of the Roman Empire

But in Pompeii and Herculaneum its different

By that date for a hundred years,

Rome had controlled the whole Mediterranean

And the result was something that
had never really existed before

This huge area of peace, stability,
prosperity, trade The people in Pompeii

and Herculaneum have access to things
from all over Europe They are uniquely

privileged and that we can see And to
see how they used that and how they

lived with all that, the best recourse is
to visit people at home

So we've tried to construct

the exhibition as though you were visiting a

Pompeiian at home And we're sitting in
the heart of the house, the atrium, where

the public business of the house is
conducted A pool in the middle open to the sky

And then off this public bit
of the house, the private rooms

And we wanted to take you into the private bits
The bits that perhaps nowadays we

wouldn't take our guests into
Into the bedroom

to see what you do in the bedroom What you
fantasize about doing in the bedroom

The dining room, the kitchen, the drains
The daily life of somebody in Pompeii

And does it work do you think? I mean do you feel closer to these people?

Do you have a sense of who they actually were?

I find them both further away and much, much nearer They're further away in the sense
that, that society of slavery is very remote to us

The religious structures There's gods that we read about but we can't really internalize

But these are people
that take their pleasures very seriously

And they're the same pleasures as ours
it's food, wine, sex, partying, friends,

family and animals This I think is a very
good example This mosaic would have been

just inside the door of the house And
it's a wonderful dog obviously a very

A dog that is much-loved She's got a very
expensive collar and a smart red lead

Eyes twinkling, ears pricked up, tail
wagging as she bounds towards you It's

the sort of dog when you visit the house
of friends you know the dog, the dog

knows you and it comes to meet you And
you feel immediately close to the animal

and the people that owned it And of
course there's another famous mosaic of

a dog from Pompeii The famous 'Cave Canem'
Beware the dog

The Roman equivalent of a pit bull

At the door to tell you to keep out

And I think in a way almost the

animals at the entrance make us feel
particularly close

As you come into the exhibition there's a third dog

It's the cast of a real dog that died tethered by

a chain Convulsed as the ash the heat
and the debris of

eruption overwhelmed it And that is a
wonderfully powerful effect

You know that these are real living beings
confronting an unimaginable catastrophe

Yes I must say I know I think those
dogs say it all in their different ways

I mean what was a tragedy for those
people 2,000 years ago, is for us a

spectacular revelation about what life
was like then

So let's look now to what actually
happened on that extraordinary day in AD 79

In the space of about 12 hours
Pompeii and Herculaneum two small Roman

cities just south of Naples were buried
by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius

A volcano that loomed over them

Herculaneum was a quiet seaside
place just west of Vesuvius

And Pompeii a larger civic
center some miles to the southeast

Vesuvius erupted in the early afternoon
and fired volcanic ash up to 30

kilometers, around 20 miles, into the
Italian sky

The mushroom cloud of ash then

collapsed and poured down on the
surrounding towns and villages

Over a thousand people, their homes and
possessions lay buried for over 1,500 years

The cities continue to yield astonishing

treasures 2,000 years later And we're
still finding out about the lives of

these particular Romans

We're going to follow the people of
Pompeii and Herculaneum through their

last two days

We begin with a last afternoon before
the disaster It's the end of the working day

The streets are bustling with people
going to the theater, calling in at a bar,

shopping at the market, or gathering in
the forum And of course many slaves are

still hard at work catering for this
busy population

Well now, before we look in detail at
what people were getting up to in

Pompeii and Herculaneum that afternoon
and early evening

Mary you know just about more than anybody else does about this Well you do you know!

About Pompeii and Herculaneum
How people lived in those days How did these two

cities figure in the Roman Empire?

I think when you come to this show you see

these fantastic wow objects I mean you know beautiful

paintings, glass, silver And it's terribly
easy to get a kind of extravagant image

of Pompeii and Herculaneum
You're telling me!

I mean look over here! It's amazing stuff on this table

But you know I could really love this
Blue bowl It's gorgeous, isn't it?

But in a way
That's sumptuous, that's very rich We
mustn't get carried away by this

Because actually the truth is that Pompeii and
Herculaneum were absolutely ordinary

one-horse towns in southern Italy And
okay they had some rich people living in

them But frankly if they hadn't been
destroyed by Vesuvius and then excavated

again we'd never have heard of them And
most Romans living in Rome wouldn't have

heard of them they're very, very ordinary
In a way that's why they're quite

interesting to us Simply because they
are so normal

When we look at a painting like this

You know one of the things I
think is So where did all that color

come from? Now actually what they've got
here this is something really

extraordinary these two rather a sort of
unappealing lumps of white Well they're

lumps of the dry pigment both of them
making white paint That you'd mix with

water to put on the walls Now those are
probably made locally and quite a lot of

the pigments they've got for these

come from the local area But some of
them come from the Empire they come from

Spain they come from Africa so there's a
kind of way in which Pompeii and

Herculaneum, little one-horse towns that
they are, they have the product of Empire

on their walls And of course the guys
are eating the product of Empire

I mean The things that really spiced up
Pompeiian diet, were things like

pepper You know where does that come
from? It comes from the east!

So tell us something now about the people

who lived here What kind of society was it?
How like ours was it?

Well in some ways it's very like ours
and in some ways it is completely different

And I mean I think
the bottom line in trying to understand

these cultures is slavery Look at that gorgeous goblet And you know how do we imagine it?

We imagine the owner drinking out of
it And we sort of imagine ourselves as

the rich Pompeiians drinking out of it
it's lovely fantasy I think it's quite

always quite useful to say okay So who
cleaned it? Who polished it? Who washed it up?

You know, who put it in the cupboard
and checked that no one had nicked it?

These objects are all in some ways slave
objects And that is an inequality that

that we find I think very hard to sort of internalize

And women? Before we end this

on quite such a bleak note about slaves
I mean I think the thing was about slaves

is that it was an unequal but a
very mobile society And what is very

striking about Rome and Pompeii and
Herculaneum, is that slave owners freed

lots of slaves And freed slaves became
Roman citizens

There's a guy you see when you come into this show,

Just before you get to the entrance There is fantastic

bronze statue and you look at him
and you think, there's a Roman toff for you

You're telling me! It's an amazing statue

Is he an emperor?

Well we know who he is

beacause there was an inscription found
underneath him And he's an ex-slave

who's made it back in the local
community And the inscription says they

put this up to him having had a public
whip round So you know slaves often turn

into ex-slaves and they have a
considerable degree of status

And there's lots of them I mean, one recent
estimate and it's based on a bit of a

citizenship list from Herculaneum that's
in the show One recent estimate is that

maybe 50% of the population of the
citizen population of Herculaneum were ex-slaves

Okay so much for the slaves
You talked about it being a very mobile society

What about women? What was their place in society? What rights did they have?

Well Formaly very few They had no vote they had no formal political rights there's

something quite paradoxical about Roman
women And you see it immediately you

come up the stairs into the show With
the statue of a woman from Pompeii

called Eumachia And what she reminds us
of, is that they might have no formal

political rights, but they could be rich
And they seemed to have had quite a

large degree of independent control over
their wealth And the Eumachia who

greets us at the top of the stairs, next
to the Empress Livia A lovely pair

She actually endowed one of the big
buildings that flanks the forum in Pompeii

So some women dare succeed
What about most of them though?

What's their position in the household?

They've got slaves to look after them

Well yeah The rich ones have
got all the slaves I think poor

poor women are working as, you know, flower
sellers as bartenders many of them will

be themselves ex-slaves you know just
think about the sex workers in the

Pompeii and brothels So women are doing
prince of all kinds of different jobs

often at the bottom of the social strata
Okay back to our timeline what are they

doing now all these people at this time
of the afternoon? Of a early evening?

What's going on?
Well it depends where on the social spectrum you were and if you were

relatively humble living in you
know a one-bedroom flat basically

You might not have a kitchen and I think the
men at least would be out at the cafe,

at the bar There's a good bar/cafe culture in Pompeii which we can see

Yeah I'm afraid there's no drink for us
but there's a great pictures of drinking

And I'm going to nip naughtily behind
the barrier This is almost my favorite

piece in the whole exhibition

It's from a bar, and what it shows is life, the kind

of life you had in the bar

Starting off here that's pretty obvious
a couple having a snog

Here you've got the barmaid
And the barmaid is serving these

two slightly bolshie customers And
she's saying: qui vol summe

whoever ordered it take it!

No it's mine, he says: Non, mea est

This pair Having a game of dice and it's the end of
the game and he's saying Exsi: I've won

He says, no you didn't get a three! Non tria
You got a two, that means you haven't won

The final bit The picture has
mostly been lost but you can see what's

going on from the from the writing that
that's still above their heads

And this one's saying: You scumbag I
did get a three I won

And this one's saying: Come on, fellator And I'm afraid you can only translate that as, come on you cocksucker

It was me! And in here must
have been the poor old landlord

The long-suffering landlord And what he's
saying is what every landlord has always

said in history You want a fight mate?
Get out!

Language just as rich as it is today, Mary, excellent!

Let's go and have a look at how people ate,
and sat, and drank when they were at home

Because the toffs were not arguing
about dice


Now Mary before we come to how they are enjoying themselves in the evening,

look at this extraordinary metal work! Whatever is that thing in the corner?

Well it's pretty kitch whatever it is

It's a fantastically over-the-top lampstand

Each of the things hanging from it are double
header oil lamps Isn't it gorgeous?

We come now to this pièce de résistance

This picture here of they used to wine and dine
Tell us about that

Well this is great because it's

It's a picture of the toffs at play
really In the evening

And it's it's also great because it's
got the slaves pictured in

Which it isn't always common

And the thing you notice first is that the
slaves are all little

Is this a fully grown man here? Is he supposed to be? But he's represented as half height

We can't tell, some of them might be kids but always
they're represented smaller

And there's little slave, taking the guy's shoes off
And he's obviously just arrived at the party

Because this one, while the shoes
are coming off under there,

this one is handing him a silver goblet
Just like the silver, one of the

silver goblets in the show actually So
he's about to get going

This one a guy here has got another different sort of
goblet in his hand

and someone scratched

over his head 'Bebo'
I'm having a drink

My favourite bit of this is the indication

that this party has already been going
on for some quite a long time

Because here is a guy who is actually falling
over and it looks as if he's actually

puking up And what I think is funny
about this is that, you know, one way this

is completely different from the you
know the poor guys we've been looking at

in the bar, but it's not quite as
different as it might seem And there's a

another nice set of paintings in a in
another house which has got scenes like

this but with little maxim's written
over them And one of the maxim's is just

like in the bar:
If you want to quarrel – go home

And the other is:
Keep your eyes off somebody else's wife

It's a wonderful picture It says so much doesn't it?

Let's move on now to what people might, what
mischief people might have been up to

after they'd left the party
Oh, I dread to think

The cubiculum, the bedroom A very handy
little space where you could sleep

obviously But you could also in fact do
other things you could have business

meetings, or you could have private
conversations with members of your household

Now because this is the
bedroom, this might be where you'd expect

to find, how shall I put it?
The slightly fruitier aspects of Roman

culture to be displayed something like
this for example Which is really lovely

sensuous erotic fresco Just look at her
look at her lovely curved buttocks And that

teasing little hand But actually this
wasn't found in a bedroom this was found

in the colonnade of a garden belonging
to a banker So thank goodness

Mary is here to help me decode this
little wonder What do you think is going on here?

Well I know this is quite a
puzzling image actually, because it's

almost, it's frightfully coy
It's just hand to hand

And one of the strange things is

this female figure in the background
What's she doing?

Look One of the ways you can explain her is
to say look she's a slave And one of the

things about ancient slavery is
that slaves are unnoticed so you can do

anything in front of a slave You can
make love you don't even notice them

They're kind of doing the dusting, and
who cares Who cares? Oh and other people would be

a bit more raunchy than that I guess And
they'd say mmm she's about to join in

isn't she? She does look slightly poised actually
One of the things that slaves

both male and female were for in the
ancient world, were for being sex workers

for their owners So the idea that she
was next in bed is not inconceivable

I mean I suppose when I look at this I
think we have to be very careful about

taking this as a literal image of how
sex happened

in the ancient world I mean actually
most of these images are probably the

images are fantasy version of sex And so
I look at this what I think actually

here we've got a bit of voyeurism built
into the painting But this is quite a

nice sub pornographic erotic version of
sex with a voyeur And you know be a bit

careful before you say: Oh here's the
slave about to leap into bed

She's looking she's the viewer so it's
titillating and promising rather than

pure raunch Well that'd be my guess I'm
being generous!

Just tell me though, how you explain a
banker chose to put this in his garden?

It's about Romans in general

Why were they so unabashed, in
a way, about showing these images of sex

Well, I think we have to say is that the Romans
weren't unabashed Across the board

But they had a different idea of where
you could see sex going on and genitals

You know we're very kind of keen to you
know put sex and genitalia

into the bedroom Into kind of off-limits,
into adults only

Now one of the things that you find in
the ancient world is that images of sex,

images of coupling, images of male
genitalia, are sort of everywhere I guess

the thing about this is that the Romans
would think that it's us that's weird

That that we have restricted images of
sex to kind of the bedroom and to erotic zones

Because the them images of sex
could be almost anywhere

I tell you what there certainly were Pretty much everywhere in Pompeii and Herculaneum,

were phalluses
I mean they're all over!

Come and have a look there's a very funny one here

The thing is Like it or not

there are a lot of erect male members in
these places I tell you what what do you

think is going on with all those
phalluses? Well that's a big question that

no one's ever quite been able to answer
I mean you could say well there's a lot of

over-sexed men around here You could say ah
it's really all about magic it's about

the willy as a protection against the evil
eye I kind of think it's about

aggressive assertion of masculinity I mean, you know The power in this world is about men

And you see the male member over the
bread oven, on the pavement, in your face

It's about blokes
It's the ultimate form of willy waving!

I've got a question Mary

Do you think the women of these cities
were they sick of this?

Do you think they
thought, not another phallus please!

Oh put the willy away Put the willy away
I mean they must've done mustn't they?

Here we are Here's our little friend

Yes well this is really extraordinary

What it is is a an ancient equivalent of a wind chime

It's got little bells that tinkle away in the wind

Now you have to look a couple of times

before you see that what it is is from
which the bells hang off, is a phallus

with wings, and a phallus tail, and
another phallus underneath And you know

I think how do you explain that? Do you
say this at last is someone having a

joke about this phallic culture?
Or are they saying I want an awful lot of luck

to come into my house And that's why
you've got kind of phallusus to the power of X

With bells on With bells on
Why not?!

In a way this one's cute but I think we have to look at something more hardcore

This is hardcore and actually I should just warn

you that it's pretty shocking So it
might be worth taking a quick peek just

to check that you are okay with looking
at it Because I mean it is I've seen

this lots of times Mary, now I have to
say it still leaves me feeling a bit uncomfortable

Well Look it's it's the god Pan making love
to a goat And I think it is it's unsettling

I mean if anybody says, oh I
can look at this no problem I think

actually they're kidding themselves But
in the Roman context, I think it might be

a bit, might be a bit different A bit more

I mean what other ways I think I see this in
Roman terms, is this a kind of joke

I mean you say all right so if we think Pan is
the most hyper sexualized person, being

in the world How does he make love to
a goat? And we see here the

sculptor has kind of put them in the
missionary position And pan is all kind

of quite cutesy and he's sort of going mwah mwah mwah mwah

And he's he's sort of tugging on the little goatee's beard

And you know in one way,
it looks all the world like consentual sex

The other way of seeing it, I suppose, is
to say well look Pan he's not really

even a human god
Pan's already half-goat

He's half-man, half-goat you can see his little goatee legs

So this is not man makes
love to goat This is half goat makes love to goat

But why was it made? I mean who
would commission a piece of art like this?

This is extremely rare
I mean don't anyone get to think that

these things are ten a penny

In some ways the context of this is very interesting

Because it was found in the villa of the papyri
Just outside Herculaneum

The one thing we know about
that it had a library full of Epicurean

philosophical tracts Now Epicurean
philosophy was half about the question

of what pleasure is And I think putting
this kind of sculpture in the middle of

a villa whose owner is dead keen on the
question of pleasure You know, there's

something which those two go together

And that I mean that's so important isn't it?

Because it reminds you with any
object like this you should never just

look at it it's in isolation you
shouldn't take it on face value you've

always got to think about the
archaeology in the context of where it

was found and the history that was going on around it

This wasn't in a public park
No, no It is extraordinary though

I can turn my back on it I've had enough
of it I've had enough of pan and goat sex

I mean the thing is you got to think that
that night, whatever you were doing

whether you were philosophizing or
imagining erotic acts or dining with

friends or maybe just sleeping

For the people in those two cities this was your last night on earth

In the morning as
they awoke the people of Pompeii and

Herculaneum would have had no idea the
mountain that had looked over them all

their lives was about to become a deadly monster

It was known that Vesuvius was a volcano
but it was presumed to be no longer active

Around sixteen or seventeen years
before Vesuvius erupted an earthquake

caused considerable damage to
Herculaneum and Pompeii A marble relief

shows the temple of Jupiter in the forum
at Pompeii swaying wildly

There had been earth tremors and changes in sea level

Caused we now know, by volcanic activity

But the Romans didn't recognize
these as signs of an impending eruption

So when tremors shook the cities on
their final day many would have thought

it another shake Little knowing that by
the middle of that day their lives would

be plunged into darkness and chaos

So you have to imagine it's the morning
and the well-to-do women at the city are

starting their day as normal without any
notion of what lies ahead And now we're

told that they did their toilet in a
very strict order They started with

their hair then their makeup then their
jewelry and then their clothes

And so this lady in this rather beautiful
fresco is obviously at the first stage

I have to say I think this is a bit of a
fantasy version because if she was a

woman of any standing then they'd have
been a slave there to help her In fact

rather special slave called an ornatrix
who was there to dress her hair in the

very latest fashions And that was
something that could take up to an hour

In the ancient world it's often very
difficult to feel close to people in

their intimate personal spaces but
actually some extraordinary artifacts

are survived from the cubiculum

Now I have to say that this is one of my very

favorite objects in the whole
exhibition And this is the man we have

to thank for bringing it here Paul
Roberts the curator Kudos to you

What an extraordinary event

Thank you
As is this piece I mean it is remarkable isn't it?

It's an astonishing piece the
Romans like us in their bedrooms needed

somewhere to put their clothes so here's
a Roman linen chest

Was there any linen left inside?

There was When the archaeologists
broke it open accidentally when they

discovered it there were carbonized
clothes inside Because the whole thing

is made of charcoal isn't it? It is The whole
thing is charcoal Wood carbonized into

charcoal by the heat of the eruption

I tell you why I think it's so moving

Because it sort of represents the order
of these little cities and then the

terrible chaos that they're actually ironically preserved this

I think that's exactly right It's part of the routine
of daily life You have your clothes you

take your clothes in or put them back in
take them out for your daily wearing

It's a normal everyday thing to do

And as an archaeologist I imagine this is

probably pretty much as fragile as
anything gets This is the most fragile

archaeological artifact you could
ever imagine

A huge piece of charcoal

Well done for getting it here in one piece

And it is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see
this I mean thank you because it's just

beautiful in its in its own special charcoaley way

I mean obviously metal's much more

resilient so did you get lovely jewelry

Oh some beautiful jewelry Let's go and
have a look at some

Oh lovely

Oh how beautiful!

Yes, these are some of the pieces from our
collections in the British Museum that

look very similar to some of the pieces
in the exhibition

I'll tell you what's genuinely moving

about this, and being so close to it as
well is, these aren't just artifacts

They're not just objects These are one
woman's personal possessions

That's right She bought them looked at them,
handled them used them every day

I like the earrings!
Gorgeous! They're a bit chunky and a bit eighties

They'd look very good on you
I won't try them on

But can I touch anything?

Yes absolutely
Why don't you hold this rather beautiful bracelet


My heart's beating faster!
It's heavy isn't it? Yes

It's gold with emeralds and pearls

So that's interesting! So these are exotic

gemstones that are coming in here to be
used Very Much

The the emeralds are coming all the

way from India
The pearls probably coming from the

Indian Ocean Gives you a real sense of
how connected these people are

That it's not just a kind of insular parochial
little place That they've got a sense of

a wider world They're part of the Roman
Empire that has access to all of this

And also, just holding this, it really makes

me think that this is, this is a kind of
you know, it's an aspirational society

It's a society that's got a sense of itself
and again it's going somewhere

It is going somewhere and it's not just the
rich Poorer women might not have

emeralds, but they'd have glass paste They
wouldn't have pearls but they'd have

white glass, and bronze instead of gold But they still

wanted nice things Kinda trying to keep up with
the Joneses next door Absolutely

You can tell me something But in all the
sources and the literary sources of

poems and the plays you hear, I have so
these will be written by men

so I don't know if theres a bit of poetic license here

A man's view of a woman, of how a woman gets ready in the morning but you hear about

these incredible lotions and potions and
you know kind of objects that they use

Well, and in fact we've got
some proof here that all these different

lotions and potions existed We've got a
little cosmetic box there were the

little individual compartments you could
lift up and there be different pigments

in there to do your make-up And here
there's a little ointment pot This one is

decorated with Cupid's Oh yes!
This would have had a little lid and inside you

would had a cream anointment And some of
the creams were pretty bizarre There was

one called drop axe Drop axe I mean it
sounds bizarre doesn't it? Drop Axe was

actually made of resin and pitch And it
was a depilatory So it took the excess

hair off your face, off your legs, and off
your private parts as well

Kind of a Roman Brazilian going on

And they were using resin, in kind of odd things as well?

Well, yes yeah that there were all sorts
of things

Swan fat And goose fat Goose fat was
good for pimples Swan fat was generally

good for the skin So you'd have all
these weird concoctions – seem weird to us

But of course to the Romans they seemed
normal But it wasn't all weird

They loved perfume And in fact here
we've got a beautiful perfume bottle

That is beautiful! Lovely clear glass and
that would have contained perfumes made

of roses, lavender, even bergamot,
cinnamon Things like that The Romans

loved their fragrances just as we do today

So you're a well-to-do woman,

and you spend two or three hours getting
yourself ready in the morning Definitely

What do you think, you would have smelt like?

I mean would you be quite gorgeous or
would it all be a bit rank with that swan's fat going on

Well I think it wouldn't exactly have been a subtle
scent I think it would have been quite a

robust perfume that they would have
liked And and of course we have to

consider other elements of hygiene I
mean our lady, as the gentleman in the

house would have used their potty, in the
morning First thing you attend to nature

Attend to nature's call Absolutely And then you
would have had a wash Perhaps not

everyone washed every day And there were
no en-suites of course So what you'd use

are your bowl and pourer sets And in
fact, we've got a pourer there which has a

lovely crinkled front And when you
poured the water out it would have been

little like a shower
Beautiful and actually we still use

things that look a bit like scallop
shells in our bathrooms today

I feel sorry for the, for the slaves though,
whose job it was to empty that

chamber pot Absolutely And emptying
the pots would have been only one of

dozens of things in just the bedroom
that the slaves would have done And I

think this presence of slaves is
something that we can't underestimate

They were the motor of the house really
Absolutely, yeah you have you have to get

your head around that don't you? That's
right They're always there

You know doing the very dirty jobs

So you've got this real kind of
melange of scents haven't you?

As you start in the morning
But I have to say even though some of them

would have been quite disgusting I think
There's this kind of olfactory window of

relief it's it's the golden hour The
hour of baking

In Pompeii and herculaneum
the largest and most imposing houses

would have shops built into their
exterior walls

Toffs and trade coexisted They were in
fact sometimes one in the same thing

Slaves were often supported by their
owners in setting up a business that

would then profit both There were around
thirty bakeries in Pompeii so the smell

of freshly baked bread would have
perfumed the early morning streets

Before the horses and carts brought
their own special aroma

The ovens would have been shared between
households Two thousand years ago one

slave in Herculaneum picked up his
cooked loaf from the bakery for his

master and mistress to eat No one got to
touch it The slave, his owners and the

bread, were all flash burned carbonized
in a volcanic surge that killed the city

Now this is I think a miracle Here is a
most familiar sight, a loaf of bread

Black, carbonized bread And it's
absolutely fascinating 2,000 years ago

this is a loaf of bread Looks much the
same today except it's black And we got

here as stamp on the side of the loaf
there which says Keller And that we

think is a, it's a slave stamp stamped on
there Keller by the way means 'quick' in Latin

Which rather suggests maybe he was
nicknamed Keller because he's pretty

nifty at getting the bread out of the oven or
something Anyway There's the loaf of

bread carbonized so huge was the surge
of heat in Herculaneum and the complete

absence of oxygen when this great
surge came down, that these things

actually turned immediately to carbon And
they were preserved for us in

exactly that form Now I'm gonna bring in
Giorgia Locatelli Giorgio Giorgio is an

Italian chef and Giorgio has been
You've got it right with him

He's been reading all the Roman authors who wrote

about food in Roman times

Giorgia what do you make of us
extraordinary relic here? It was

definitely the most exciting piece that
I see in the exhibition Because it was

just, brought me right there in that moment
when it happens

Bread is something that everybody used
everyday Italian have got a great love

affair with bread and still enduring now
And you know this piece of bread with

these eight different slices that you can
actually sort of break down

Yes portions Each person gets a portion Exactly

Break them down like that It's just so incredible after
2000 years How do you explain the

ridge around the outside? You've been cooking a loaf for us haven't you?

That's right You've made it as simple as
you can as similar as you can I try to

you know give him a shape I can only
explain you know, I can only think then

that is a string running all the way
around which wouldString? Yes it's a piece of

string which would allowed you, you must
think that the bread was used as a spoon

as well to pick up the thing so yeah you
are you if you have it devided by the string you

have two pieces Then it comes together
on the eighth Okay? And also I think the

most important thing is when you bought
it you picked it up And you take it away with you

Now on your loaf, just as on our loaf from Herculaneum, you've got the stamp here

Now, how do you explain that?
I guess the stamps was during the day

the baker would bake for sale And then
in the afternoon he will do another

baking which is happening, still in
Italy now, will do a baking for the

people who prepare their own dough and
brings it in just to be baked in the big oven

And so the they would leave a stamp
so do you know In Lentini in Sicily

still now the people goes in the
afternoon get their own bread baked and

they put a penny or something like that in it,
so they recognize their own loaf

So you think this tradition could
have lasted 2,000 years? Definitely

So you're saying there's a place in Sicily where they put a stamp on it to mark

their own loaves? That's right So then
they recognized it after it's baked

Extraodinary Now Giorgio we've got some more carbonized

things over here Carbonized food What
have we got? I mean we've got some

unbelievable like, pomegranates So you
see how beauty is small And then you

have the, what Roman cooking was
all about You have the figs, the almonds

You have the grapes, you have the little
bits of breads So this is all like

ingredients And were sort of again
carbonized because they were kept in

those little jars They're wooden baskets aren't they?
That's right And they've carbonized

as well Unbelievably they survived And with
with the thing inside there also inside

the jar the glass jar that would have
rested you know like it was you must

There was no sugar at this time, there's
no you know, it's a different Italian

cuisine than the one that we figured out
now So the sweetness of things

like the dessert would have been, you
know, your walnuts and your figs at the

end of the meal Right Now I want you to come round
here Giorgio look at this wonderful jar here

Now this is the Dormouse jar In this jar, and it had a lid of course

You'd put Dormice
Yeah And they would sort of fatten

themselves up And run and a scamper
around Eat out of those little troughs

Right And they would be eaten! Yes? Absolutely
you know You have

like leads on there because
they were ferocious it will attack you

And you would drop inside there in those
little two spaces you will drop the food

you want them to eat So if you feed
them very well, after a time you just get

them and you open them up Even
Apicius talks about this

Apicius is the Roman writer about food

Yes exactly And he talks about
this sort of recipe with the Dormice

And he talks about you know to kill the
Dormice, skin it, and then fill it with

forcemeat And then you know, you just
pound together pepper, pine nuts, the

liquamen and laser And then you sew it
back together and put it in the oven and

cook it What did it taste like? I think it
would be fantastic Like a rabbit or

something like that Like a sweet white

Charming Not for me, thank you!

Won't you come over here Giorgio?

We got here some kitchen implements, utencils Oh yeah! What have we got here?

Well I mean you got different type of
moulds You know that beautiful sort of

like a rabbit one But the most and you
have this one

they obviously Do you poach eggs in them
right? I don't think they're for poaching

More like baking I guess those
things arefor baking, for making fish I

think But the most incredible
one is this colander Here It is just

incredible Look at the fine work of that
It is incredible we don't make colandars like that!

It's a beautiful colander isn't it? I mean look at

that beautiful patterned holes of tiny
little holes all the way round Just before we

leave the kitchen Thank you very much
Giorgio Before we leave the kitchen,

I want to show you this shrine here
to the gods It was usually near the kitchen,

or in the kitchen And here you have a kind
of a surface on which they offered

offerings to the gods A couple of snakes
they're very auspicious things, snakes in

those days And right in the kitchen here
we've seen many houses they would have

had a drain right by where you'd
served the food, or cooked the food And down

that drain, would go everything you could dream of!

Not just kitchen waste but human waste

as well the contents of the family
chamber pots for example Horrible and

the smell must have been horrible
Terribly unhygienic!

And talking drains

I went to Herculaneum seven years ago to
make a television program and I remember

meeting a team of people who are working
in the drain at Herculaneum

Digging out the sewage and stuff to look inside
it and one of the key figures, the head

of the team there was Andrew Wallace
Hadrill Who's with us here at the exhibition

tonight Now Andrew what an unpleasant
thing to be doing Peter I know you're a

bit squeamish about Roman lavatory
practices, but let me reassure you that

the Romans were squeamish about it too
Here's this wonderful bit of fresco

where someone's painted up on the wall a
a little chap relieving himself

And above it are the glorious words:
Kakato cave malum Crapper beware!

You're in trouble! Go and
crap somewhere else What did you find in

the sewer? What were you after? So the
Herculaneum sewers is an absolute joy

There's nothing like it
You've got an 80 meter run and it's a

triumph so to speak of Roman hygienic
engineering They've connected up a

couple of dozen shops and flats all to
the same great sewer

So you've got the largest amount of
sewage ever excavated in the Roman world

And what do you do with the sewage?

Well there's all sorts of stuff in it and the're two

different types And one is the human
waste and that's fantastic and I wish we

could show it here in the exhibition but
you need a microscope, to look at the

stuff But if you if you sieve through
the stuff and analyze it, you find the

entire story of their diet Fascinating
And and what's so important about it is

that this isn't the diet of the rich and
famous, it's the diet of people living in

shops and rented accommodation and so on
So the quite ordinary Romans And you've

got an enormous richness of foods there
All sorts of animal bones, fish bones

you've got over 50 different varieties
of fish And shellfish and then fruit and

nuts Even herbs to flavour the food
with So the idea that there are the less

well-off Romans just ate very boring food
is absolutely wrong A lot of the stuff

that you found in the drain is right
here in this case Well this is just a

small selection
Luckily the Romans were quite incredibly

careless and we found something like 200
crates full of solid stuff that they'd

thrown down their drains What sort of
stuff have we got here? Well at the back there

you've got what you could call the bog
standard stuff You've got the sort of

cooking wares and and cheap pottery
But what fascinates me is you've got

some really rather pricey stuff here You
see this this this red stuff

That's Arretine ware and it was a really
upmarket kind of pottery

This one's got rather
beautiful figures on it

And then Do you see that one there in front
of the amphora? That comes from

south Gaul And it was only manufactured They
only started manufacturing that sort of

pottery a few years before the eruption
And already they're importing it from

south Gaul to Pompeii It was a new fashion
And then what have we got here? We've got

we've got loads of lamps You've got to
imagine all their houses Olive oil

would have made them flame Exactly Little wicks
in the end And like all the lamps of

this period they tend to have scenes on
them And you see there's one at the back

there which has got a little scene of
gladiators That's one of the popular scenes

It's almost intact as a
lamp So why on earth did they throw that one away?

Surely they could get a bit of
light out of it

I like your thought about the

slaves breaking it in the kitchen Putting it down the drain hoping the owner wouldn't see it

But slaves are a notoriously dreadful

careless lot This is why the owner has
to flog them so often Don't you dare throw my favorite lamp down

Well absolutely! And what are the women

chucking down? Over here you've got some,
some needles for sewing And a comb, it's

lost all its teeth But that's
probably because it was down the drain

and the teeth were eaten away And
you've got a little beads there that

could be from a necklace And over here
this is really astonishing stuff

You've got gemstones These are really quite
precious things to put in in your signet

ring And right in the middle there
you've got a golden ring with a gemstone

How indeed? Can you imagine how the
person who lost it cursed? What did I do?

Did I take it off while I was
washing my hands or something? I can't

find my ring! And whoop down in the drain
What about these little glass tubes?

Those are for perfume Perfume, ointment sort of

things You could use it when you went to
the baths for instance You'll oil

yourself down Or just, they could be for
women to perfume themselves And then

you've got all sorts of bits of glass
and again that glass is really quite

fancy stuff These are ordinary people I
can't say it often enough These are not

the grand people in the grand houses, but
they're using really rather beautiful glass

Was glass very common and cheap in Roman
times? We actually don't know the exact

prices, But pottery like that was much
commoner That's the everyday stuff

That's the fancy stuff So they're losing
the fancy stuff, as well as the cheap

So Andrew, one of the most fascinating things
is funny little statue A very pretty little,

rather moving little statue And what looks almost
like a Madonna with a child in her lap

What on earth is that?

Isn't she lovely? It's a little
terracotta statuette And initially you

think it's a Madonna suckling But
actually she's got the baby on her knee

Yes And of course you want to know is
that, is that a Christian thing?

And I think the answer is, it's very unlikely to
be Christian It could be of course

They were pagan images The suckling mother

The mother who looks after the child is not just

a Christian image but a universal human
image But once again, why is it down the drain?

What indeed is it doing down there?

Did someone carefully put it by their
latrine, as a sort of a protective

goddess And she fell down in in an
earthquake or something we have no idea

how this stuff got down there All I can
say is, it's it's pretty amazing stuff

Now you're you're very much an expert on
Herculaneum Why is Herculaneum so much

lower profile than Pompeii? Herculaneum
is the little one Pompeii is the big site

Herculaneum is the little site But
even more important than that,

Herculaneum has always been much harder
to dig Because it's covered in this deep

cover of what's effectively rock And
underneath a modern town And underneath

a modern town So it's always been a
big struggle to excavate there And it's

actually the publicity machine
First of the Spanish Kings who ruled in

Naples Who discovered that Pompeii was
the perfect thing to attract tourists

And that publicity machine has gone on
and on and on And modern tourism is

an extension of that 18th century stuff

Now You know that area of Herculaneum and Pompeii very well

There's so much of Herculaneum still unexcavated
And Pompeii too

Why not go ahead and do more excavation?

Isn't it a dream? There's what
2/3 3/4 of Herculaneum still

unexcavated And I completely
understand people think let's let's dig

up some more And sometimes I get a bit
unpopular because I say slow down

First let's look after what we've already dug
up Because the problem is both these

sites, currently, right as we speak Are
falling to pieces And in that process of

looking after them properly, you can find
out so much more We found this stuff in

the sewer of Herculaneum, because we were
examining in greater detail what's

already been excavated And there's a lot
more of that still to do before we

need to open up vast new areas of

Is there a bit of a debate going on about this?

I mean, are you on one side of the
argument, with others on the other? Do some

people want to go ahead and dash away and
excavate? On the whole archaeologists are

on my side The people who want the treasures out

Saying, come on let's excavate! But excavation is such a slow and

difficult process, you know It only took
us a few months to excavate this

material To study it has taken us We're
still studying it today

Years later it just takes so long to
understand things properly And what I

want people to do is to slow down, and
really look at it in depth and in detail

Okay Thank you Andrew

Well now Let's move on from all this talk about
drains and the smelly rooms like

the kitchen and the toilet To this
fantastically spick-and-span atrium

Right in the center of the house the
vestibule And Paul this is really

designed to impress isn't it? Yes, it certainly is
If you've got the money to have a lovely

house like this then you've got a lot of
political and economic dependence And

you'll invite them into your house And
they'll ask you for political favors, for

loans, and you wow them You want to
impress them with your status, your

wealth, your ancestry your devotion to
the gods And so you fill the atrium with

things that reflect this The ancestors
are present but also current members of

the household One of the loveliest
paintings in the exhibition is a

painting of a baker called Terentius
Naio, and his wife What's his wife's name?

We don't know Mrs Baker And so there
they are Good Romans in their Sunday best

And it's what they're holding
that's most interesting because they are

literate They are cultured He's holding
a scroll which could be a speech, could

be a piece of Latin or Greek She on the
other hand is holding wooden writing

tablets And these we know were used for
holding the accounts And so she's

actually saying, look I am doing the
business end of things So they're a

partnership in marriage, but also they're
a partnership in the business

They did have status
They did Absolutely And then of course

there's how you made that wealth Now
wealth could come through inheritance, it

could come through land, property rentals
But a lot of it came through business

Through making things, and
trading things And in fact there's a man

in the West of Pompeii, built a lovely big
house, on the proceeds of selling fish sauce

He sold the Gharum The
really exotic Roman fish sauce that was

the basis of Roman cuisine Made of
rotting fish Fermented And he made

enough money to build a nice house And
when they laid out the floor he actually

set into the floor four panels of mosaic
in the shape of his lovely fish sauce

bottles With the best fish sauce made of
mackerel from the

factory of Scaurus That was his name
What do the stuff tastes like, do you suppose?

It actually tasted very nice

It sounds revolting but it tasted
very good Sort of ketchup? Yes In fact

One American coined his nickname was
the ketchup king of campaignia

This was Scaurus' nickname But there were
lots of ways of making wealth of course

you had to display that wealth And the
other thing you had to do in the atrium

really was to show your devotion to the
gods The gods were everywhere in the

Roman house like they were in in Roman
society And there's a particularly

beautiful painting There are
different types of shrines that you

could have in your home You could make a
shrine, a little model of a temple Or you

could paint shrines on the walls And
there's a shrine from an atrium in

Pompeii which shows Mount Vesuvius And
it's before the eruption So it's nice

and green And there are vineyards down
the bottom And standing by the side is

Bacchus, the god of wine and fertility
Because of course it was a very fertile

area, thanks to the volcano A Greek
writer straight were actually says

Vesuvius used to be a live volcano
spewing out fire, but now it's run out of

fuel And that's what makes the land so
fertile It's a volcanic fertile area

Did the Romans take these gods seriously?
These absurd characters like Bachus?

Well it's interesting We can't be sure
whether they worshiped them, whether as

a religion as such or whether it was a
superstition But all we do know is that

every single inch of a Roman home has
depictions of the Gods, just like society

So whether they believed in them or not
they were so important to them Okay Paul

Now in our narrative of the hours
leading up to the catastrophe it's

around late morning so we're at the
point just before Versuvius erupts

But let's hold off for a moment because
Bettany and I want you to see the

most beautiful space of this Roman home

This garden room here is from a place
the excavators at Pompeii named the

house of the golden bracelet And
originally these fresco panels would

have sat very snugly together, but the
Museum has opened them up so more

visitors can enjoy them So what you have
to imagine here is an elegant

three-tiered house behind this garden
room a view out over to the garden and

then beyond that the sea And here
to experience the garden delights with me is

the Garden expert, Rachel It
absolutely is delightful That's the only

word for it When you come in here and I
think when you get that sense that this

was a much smaller space But it was
really somewhere very special, and you

had to come right through the house,
through the atrium, through the garden to

this room at the very end Makes you feel
that it was something that perhaps only

to be enjoyed by by favored few It's
exquisitely beautiful there's no doubt

about that
But is it real? Are these real

plants that could have grown in the garden?

Absolutely real! Absolutely I mean that's

the beauty of it is that it's so finely
painted that you can identify plants

immediately I mean things like the
Arbutus Unedo there the strawberry

tree Look at the fruits on that it's

And you've got Oleander You've got a
Viburnum there Possibly Viburnum Tinus,

possibly not I think it might be a
summer flowering type A plain tree!

There in the middle And we've got roses,
you've got all of that sort of up at the

top you've got the trees and the
shrubbery and then down below the

perennials That sort of understory of
planting Things like Marigolds and

Daisies And look there's Ivy
That's a variegated Ivy just crawling

through thereI think it's exquisite And
would these all have been growing

together at the same time? Well I think
it's certainly an idealized s cene The

things would have, most of these plants
would have been flowering through the

spring through into the summer So they
do represent a fairly short space of

time in terms of flowering And certainly
I think the artist must have been asked

to show this garden at its absolute peak
You know the time that you'd want to sit

here and admire these plants and get the
fragrance, the sents of these flowers

So I think in those terms it is it's real
and yet it's sort of hyper real

It's been it's been done in Technicolor
Yeah the chrome dials kinda ramped up

Exactly I mean also gardeners had a job of
work to do, because I mean the flowers

here they were never just put in vases
in a home They were used as garlands

weren't they? That's right
There's certainly no evidence that they cut

flowers and kept them in the home But
they did grow flowers specifically for

ritual use I mean these garlands that
are represented all the way along the

top there
Absolutely beautiful and I think

certainly that a lot of these plants you
would have grown for medicinal reasons,

for culinary purposes for all sorts of
other reasons But perhaps in in the

garden here in this courtyard I doubt
that you'd have have you ever been able

to have that many And therefore probably
a lot of plants have been grown outside

their homes as well for those purposes
To get the quantity that they needed

And what do you think as a gardener is this kind of fantasy garden a good

garden? Would it practically work?
I think it would have worked I think it would

have been quite wild I mean it is
definitely a sense of of nature being

here It's only just tamed I mean there's
a lot going on here I mean that's well

that's really interesting Because what
you've got these representations here

These kind of masks and these pictures
They're all to do with Bacchus And Bacchus

we always think of him as the god of
wine But of course he was also the god

of nature And I wonder if the Romans are
saying something here They're sort of

saying we have tamed nature we've
created a garden, but actually we need to

keep the god of nature on side You know
we never know when he might kick off

So that's why you have some of these
images which are quite sinister, some of

them I mean those gaping masksThey're not comfortable images

Definitely not comfortable I had wondered why they were there

And I love that idea that although,
I mean there's this great Roman urge to

make everything very contained and
controlled and so on, but yet you cannot

control nature in every sense No

We've also got all the birds All the birds you can throw at a garden are here At the same time

I've been trying to identify them I mean some of them are obvious, I think Things like Magpie

We've got lots of doves as well

A golden Oriole there Ah! Very well done!
That's very good What about this one?

It's a very peculiar looking almost a rather comic bird over there? It is

But this is brilliant, because
actually it's one of the curators here

who has identified that correctly for
the first time in English And it is

And it is a Purple Swamp Hen Well I'm very
impressed I'm very impressed that

someone There's another detail here
that I absolutely love There's a

Nightingale on top of that steak And if
you look closely the Rose look at all

the thorns going up the stem The
Rose has actually been tied on I was

doing that two days ago in my own
garden, and here we are in Pompeii just showing

that representation, not only of the
plants, but of the the skill of

gardening Yes Of growing these things
I think that's wonderful

And I think thats opium poppies papaver somniferum Next to it as well which

would have been an important medicinal plant
Very important medicinal plants And also

actually seeing all these all these
different species, some of these are ones

that we're so used to in our modern
countries and actually particularly that

we think of is very British You know the
Rose and we also think of things like

apples and cherries and pears and
lavender as being British Yes but the

Romans brought the majority
Exactly I mean the Romans were key in terms

of introducing plants You know far and wide
Not only to Britain, but right out across

the world I mean a lot of that is a
result directly of the plants that

the Romans introduced to us
You're right I mean this you certainly

couldn't have had this anywhere else at
that time This scene So we have to

imagine, I think sitting here, close on
2,000 years ago and one of the stone

benches that they provided Maybe with a
glass of wine or two Very definitely

with a glass of wine Looking out over
the garden and then beyond the sea

Perfection Beautiful

During the morning of the last day there
were tremors And then short, sharp

explosions As the top of the Vesuvius
burst open And a great mass of volcanic

material, mixed with gas, and ash was
thrown into the sky By 1 o'clock in the

afternoon there was a dark column of
cloud building up above the volcano

This was a Plinian eruption

Named after the writer Pliny who
witnessed the destruction

You could hear the shrieks of women, he
wrote The wailing of infants and the

shouting of men Many besought the aid of
the gods but still more imagined there

were no gods left

And that the universe
was plunged into eternal darkness ever more

As the cloud rose winds began to spread

ash and other matters southwards

The people of Herculaneum were plunged
into almost total darkness

To the southeast Pompeii suffered a
rain of pumice This went on throughout

the afternoon Until a new kind of pumice
denser and heavier than before shot up

into the cloud, The cloud reached around
30 kilometres, around 20 miles high

But then it destabilised and collapsed
Several times Creating a series of

fast-moving avalanches of superheated
gas ash and pumice Known as pyroclastic

surges These surges hit the cities
traveling at over 110 kilometers, that's

seventy miles an hour The population of
Herculaneum, we think, died around

midnight Pompeii died at around seven or
eight the next morning

None of the women, children, men and
animals who were actually in Pompeii and

Herculaneum at the time, survived

Now Paul We've got this picture of the
two cities being hit at different times

Did anyone escape?

Yes in the early phase
of the eruption people could get away by

land, in Herculaneum in particular by sea
But a lot of people didn't escape

Maybe they were ill maybe they were old
They chose to stay in their homes, where

they thought they'd be safe They stayed
in their cities And in Herculaneum a lot

of people went down to the beach
About 350 bodies were found on the beach

And some of them maybe had got away by
boat Some of their relatives, friends had

got away They chose to stay And at
midnight the great volcanic cloud

collapses And a pyroclastic surge, this
avalanche of superheated material

400 degrees centigrade Heads down towards
Herculaneum And it's traveling at about

70 miles or 110 km/h And it pushes
through the city And as it goes through

the city everything that is made of wood,
staircases, ceilings, the furniture in the

houses Is turned into charcoal Its
carbonized It's so hot that it's

actually turned into a charcoal The people are desiccated

They're shriveled burnt down to the bone
And we know this because on the beach at

Herculaneum Those bodies The pyroclastic
surge flows onto the beach, kills them

immediately And in effect reduces them
down to skeletons These are the people

that we're trying to escape? They were
trying to escape Now we have here

Some amazing objects,
found with those people on the beach

That's right Tell us about them
Well they're a collection of objects

that people picked up and ran with down
to the beach And as you can see there

there's a lantern Now why a lantern? The
eruption starts at midday Well the

reason is, it's pitch black The great
cloud has blotted out the sun So you're

stumbling around in the darkness
You're trying to decide

Do you run? Do you stay in your house? But
whatever you do, it's dark So you need a lantern

And you can see there the key
Because of course they thought they were

going back to their homes Extraordinary
Could they be the keys for a safe or

something? Or probably a house,
front door It could be the key to a

front door, a workshop, a little shed
could be But it's the key for some place

that meant some thing And this found with a
body on the beach someone running away

from their home They've locked up and
hope to go back to They hope to go back

to and never did Now what else have
we got here Paul? Well there's a wooden

money box There which only contains two
coins It might have belonged to a child maybe

Let's move back to the other case
Here this huge case here with lots of

exciting things in it Paul What have
we got here?

Well you've got a doctor who was on the
beach with his medical instruments And

even the carrying case that the scalpels
and the probes were all put into

A little girl was on the beach with her
charm bracelet And you can see there all

the different charms from the Roman
Empire and beyond Cowrys from the

Indian Ocean There were Baltic amber
amulets We all picture here the doctor

and the young girl picking these up as
they left home Rushing off with their

precious possessions The things they thought
to run with when when they left their homes

Two fine gold bracelets here Yes a
woman had these beautiful bracelets, and

some jewellery And she ran with that and
died with it on her

What else? What do we have here?

Oh that's a soldier There was
a soldier on the beach with a sword

A stabbing dagger, a Gladius, and he had
this wonderful ornamental belt But he

also had, perhaps surprising, on his back
was a rucksack full of woodworking tools

And he ran away with all this stuff
thinking he might need it

The prescious sword he wanted to take with him just in
case he ever got back But the sad thing

was of course not the soldier, not the
doctor, not the girl with a charm

bracelets, none of this could save them
and they all died together on the beach

Now Paul we come next to the, I think
the most striking and evocative part of the

exhibition Which is the these
extraordinary plaster casts of people

who died in Pompeii in the exact
positions in which they died How on

earth do they make these? Well Pompeii
was destroyed by the same pyroclastic

surges that hit Herculaneum Though later
8 o'clock in the morning But by then and

by the time tthe surge hits Pompeii it's
less hot So it's only about 300 degrees

So it doesn't burn the bodies down to
the bone, as happened to many of the

bodies in Herculaneum Instead if you
like the bodies in Pompeii are cooked

Their flesh becomes solid The ash swirls
around them and then cases the body in

fine ash Which takes the shape of
the body And as the body rots away as it

inevitably does Left in the ash were the
shape of the body When the

archaeologists discovered those bodies in
the 19th century they discover the holes rather

It's a void really It's a void with the bones inside
And they've very cleverly

discovered that if you stop digging
pouring plaster of paris Let it's set

Dig away the ash carefully There is a
body of a real person The shape of

the body just as it died And here we
have this guy here I mean a really

emotional thing to look at I mean this
is a man dying This is a moment of death

He's in a curios crouching

position with his hand up to his face
is he? Is that what's going on? Yes he's

probably trying to mask his face to
cover his face from from what he's seen

is coming He probably saw the great
pyroclastic surge heading towards him

Covered his face in those last moments
Now a very poignant thing we see from

Herculaneum is that little cradle which
again talks about people so effectively

What's that all about?
W ell it's a cradle as you say made of

wood Yeah But when you have that
intensely hot surge over Herculaneum 400

degrees The wood is in effect turned
into charcoal So you have the real

cradle that turned into charcoal And of
course sadly inside was discovered the

little occupant of the cradle
a baby maybe nine months a

year old And because it was Herculaneum
it's kind of full atop Absolutely

And of course that cradle really does
speak to us of family

Well talking of family, let's move on
to last but what to me I think has had the

greatest impact of all and in this whole
exhibition And it's the family, Paul, it's

extraordinary isn't? Here we have
a family, plaster cast of a family and

they're at the moment of death again
Just take us through it

You have a man who almost certainly the
father on the left on the left The woman

on the right with the small child rising
from her lap And then another child laid

out by the side And the child's features
are so incredibly real aren't they? I mean see

that the mouth and there's the eyes and
the ears, and and even the clothes on

the child And the father as well That's
right Pompeii, because it was buried by

only 300 degrees, the bodies are cooked
then we could make the cast But the

clothing the facial features sometimes
even the hair you can still see it

Now why are they in this curious I mean
obviously they've been hit by this

terrifying surge Yes But why are the
arms up like that? Well it looks if

they're resisting the surge It looks as
if they're fighting, but actually it's

it's a pose called the pugilist or the
boxer pose And it's what happens to the

body when it's hit by this high
temperature This 300 degrees that the

tendons actually start contracting so
the arms and the legs sort of contract

like this So it looks like they're
fighting against As the surge hits, what do

you think they were doing at the time
the surge hit them? Is this sitting down?

They're under a staircase aren't they? They
were They were found under the stairs

and they they were sitting The surge
hits them The poignant thing

is that the mother was obviously holding
the child up until the last moment then

she falls back And the father also falls
back like that Yes And would they have

known anything about it? No They would
have died very very quickly

Those temperatures your consciousness
would shut down Your system might carry

on working for some seconds, but you as a
person are dead It's just reminds us

doesn't it, that this basically an intense
human tragedy isn't it? It is a terrible

tragedy But the ironic thing is that the
tragedy that gave us these awful images

of death, have preserved so many things
to do with with life With these people

for example we know that they were quite
well-off They enjoyed a nice lifestyle

The woman in particular had with her a
lot of jewelry Coins and this wonderful

golden bracelet that you can see And
that of course solid gold

It weighs half a kilo You're joking Half a
kilo of gold! Because she had it

on her arm And in fact it gave its house
the name The the house of the golden

bracelet And of course that name's
familiar to us because it's the

beautiful garden room from the house of
the golden bracelet that Bettany and

Rachel were talking in before

All that buried in one horrific 24-hour
period 2,000 years ago Now lots of you

have written to us online in the past few

asking Questions Many which I hope
we've answered in this live event And

We've now a few to ask to Mary and Paul
Paul and Mary are you ready for these?

Mary I think you can go first This is from
Vincent de Lorenzo good Italian sounding

name from Worcester And he asks what
percentage of the population do you

think escaped Pompeii? Well I think we've
got good news here actually But it's

quite a big percentage probably And we
found putting the two towns together,

so far the remains of about 1,500 people
that would be well perhaps 10% of the

population So we know that some people
tried to escape and didn't make it There

must have been others particularly those
who got their acts together earlier Who

did make it Yeah I'd agree A lot of
people probably got away There are still

some bodies to be discovered in the
fields outside Pompeii Washed out to sea

at Herculeneum but a lot of people would
have got away Paul, a question for you from

Bernie Murer in London What was the hardest
decision to make in terms of deciding

what not to include in the current exhibition?
The only hard decision I had to make was

to choose between the enormous range of
things our colleagues in Naples, Pompeii

Herculaneum was so generous and so
helpful The only problem I had was

deciding which of these wonderful things
I could bring It's a good problem to have

Another one for you, Paul I think
this is from Anne Lindsey in Swansea And

she says thinking about the site itself
How can you ensure that there's no

further deterioration to those existing
frescoes in situ

Well the simple answer is you can't

Unless if you discover the fresco cut it out from the

wall take it to the museum
then it's preserved Or if you roof it

over it may survive as well But if it's
left exposed then you can't protect it

So it's a bit of a choice between
removing or protecting or leaving

exposed Because there was a terrible
thing wasn't there in the earliest

excavations, when on the podium of the
amphitheater, there was s a fresco exposed

that's right, and in one night of
heavy frost, all the frescoes just

crumbled Just crumbled So that's the
problems that we're facing Now one for

both of you This is from Brian Weary in
Gosforth This relates to that issue over

discussing with Andrew Wallace Hadrill,
earlier Whether or not to go on

excavating What do you think you should
do? Excavate Mary or conserve? Well there's

quite a lot still to be excavated
three-quarters of Herculaneum A third

of Pompeii And now we tend to think not
excavation And that's that's partly

because of a conservation issue We
should actually look after what we've

got, not find more But it's also a sense
that we've got to leave some of this for

future generations Who actually might be
able to do more clever scientific things

and squeezing it for information So leave
it under the soil hmm I agree There's a

lot being done regarding conservation
And that's the best thing to do rather

than dig up more Leave it for the future

But I still I don't know I still sometimes go to bed

and I dream about excavating more of

We've got time for no more questions But
the conversation can now continue on

Facebook and of course on Twitter at

Well now it's time to leave you but the
final word from Neill Gregor the director of

the British Museum Neal what would you like
people to take away after this journey

through this exhibition? I think that the
people of Pompeii and Herculaneum died

in a particularly dreadful way But that
death allowed us to enter their lives to

think about what it was like to be a
Roman To live in the Roman Empire

That's what the whole exhibition's been about Its
what the whole Museum is about To let you

explore other people's lives And think
the world differently That's what's been

so marvelous about making this
exhibition available to everybody

Through this new way of broadcasting on
cinema And we hope that we're going to

be able to do it again And let people
all around the world visit the

exhibitions at the British Museum Well thank you Neil, and

goodbye to you all


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