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Bestselling Books at the Mummy Tombs

 
Pompeii Plaster Casts: How and Why They Were Created
Plaster Cast from Pompeii
Background Information
Where to see them
Pompeii Antiquarium
Garden of the Fugitives
Stabian Thermal Baths
Horrea and Olitorium
Macellum
Villa of the Mysteries
Caupona Pherusa
House of the Four Styles
Region I
Porta Nocera
Boscoreale Antiquarium
Historical Information
Younger Pliny's letters
Seneca's describes AD 62 earthquake
Gautier short story about Pompeii

Early account of making plaster casts

Charles Dickens describes Pompeii
Mark Twain describes Pompeii
William Dean Howells describes Pompeii
WW2 bombing of Pompeii
Visiting Pompeii and vicinity
visiting Pompeii
visiting Herculaneum
visiting Mt. Vesuvius
Further Information
books about Pompeii
touring Pompeii exhibitions
websites about Pompeii

 

 

 

 

 

 

In AD 79 an eruption of Mount Vesuvius effectively wiped out the Roman town of Pompeii. Volcanic ash and pumice rained down on the town for about 18 hours (to depths of 8-10 feet); many roofs collapsed under the weight. This was followed by a nuée ardente, explosive superheated pyroclastic clouds of toxic gas and debris that came in six surges. Two bodies exhibited in the Stabian Thermal Baths Pompeii was completely covered and remained hidden for over 1600 years. 

In 1748, Pompeii was rediscovered--not only its houses, but (eventually) some of its citizens. Although only fragmentary skeletal remains were found there, hollow spaces within the hardened volcanic debris revealed the forms of many deceased Romans. Suffocated by volcanic gasses and covered in ash and debris, their bodies eventually decayed inside the hardening matter.  This air space essentially formed a mold, since the ash that had surrounded the person retained an imprint of the body. Excavators realized this and filled the air pockets with plaster. The resulting "plaster mummies" poignantly capture the human tragedy of Pompeii.

A visit to Pompeii (and nearby Herculaneum, where only skeletons were found) should be high on any world traveller's list of must-see sites...and not just to see plaster mummies. The structure of the city, the architecture of the buildings, the beauty of the artwork--all make for an unforgettable visit. Even to walk on the stones of the street is mind-boggling. 

During my many visits to Pompeii as I worked on my book, Bodies from the Ash, I found plaster mummies among the ruins in many places (but please note that displays are often moved without notice). Others are exhibited in houses that may be unexpectedly closed (for repair or lack of guards) or in buildings that are only occasionally open to the public, including the House of the Cryptoporticus. Visitors who arrive at Pompeii early on weekend days can request tickets to the special houses that are open, only on weekend mornings. Lack of funding and adequate security make such limited opening hours a necessity.

Here is a partial list of the places you should be able to find the plaster casts of Pompeii:

 

The Garden of the Fugitives (13 plaster mummies were found there)

Porta Nocera (4)

the Boscoreale Antiquarium (3)

the Stabian Thermal Baths (2)

the Horrea and Forum Olitorium (as many as 6 can be seen in this storage facility)

the Villa of the Mysteries (2)

the Macellum (2)

the secret exhibit of Region I (2)

the House of the Four Styles (2)

the Caupona Pherusa (1)

Bodies used to be displayed in the Pompeii Antiquarium, though this should be reopening soon (with an undisclosed number of plaster casts on display)

 

 

 

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