Pompeii and plaster casts

Last week I met up with my parents in Rome to take a road trip. Our first port of call was Pompeii to visit the Roman ruins, and where we also stayed for two nights. (Staying in Pompei was great for its easy access to the site, but it didn’t have too much else going for it. Just rubbish, rubbish everywhere.)

We clocked in a full office day, from 9.30-5, and walked nearly every street on the map. It was amazing to be able to walk through streets that so clearly were streets (of course), and to peer inside buildings. I know a lot of reconstruction has taken place (including reconstruction of reconstruction), but it was impressive all the same.

I, perhaps naïvely, hadn’t realised that when the body hollows were discovered some still had skeletons inside. Perhaps that should have been obvious, that bones don’t decompose the same as flesh and clothing do. But I had just read this article that points out that the plaster casts made from the hollows weren’t really bodies at all, (though on second reading of the article I see the mention of bones). Whatever it was, I was surprised to come across this sorry soul around the corner from the forum, with bones of toes, fingers, head and teeth poking through the plaster.


It was quite incongruous to see the plaster body casts hanging on storage shelves along with the piles of vases that they apparently don’t know what to do with. Pompeii perhaps needs to work on its display technique. We didn’t make it to Naples to see the museum where the more interesting Pompeii-ian discoveries are now kept. Something about leaving a rental car full of our possessions at a tourist site in a city known for car theft wasn’t too appealing in the end.**

**I have since been to the Archaeological museum in Naples, and I wouldn’t recommend you drive there anyway. The traffic is insane, it’s particularly busy around the museum corner, and I’m not sure they have parking anyway. Save the stress and take the train. But not from Pompeii, you still shouldn’t overnight there.


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