Best Books about Pompeii

Plaster Casts at the Garden of the Fugitives
Plaster Cast from Pompeii
Background Information
Where to see them
Pompeii Antiquarium
Garden of the Fugitives
Stabian Thermal Baths
Horrea and Olitorium
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









The Garden of the Fugitives is one of the most moving areas in Pompeii. Here, thirteen hollow spaces were found in the hardened layers of ash and volcanic debris. These spaces were filled with plaster and quickly became the statues of thirteen people--the largest number of victims found in one site. From their position in the ash, archaeologists were able to determine that they had died early in the morning of the second day of the eruption as they attempted to flee the city. They had no way of knowing that the eruption had entered its second and deadlier phase. Super hot toxic clouds of gas and debris blasted down the slopes of Vesuvius and overwhelmed Pompeii, killing everyone who had not yet left. 

The location where the bodies were created became called the Garden (and sometimes the orchard) of the Fugitives, though that was not the name in ancient Pompeii. It was an area of vineyards with an outdoor triclinium, or dining room for summer eating.

Here is what the Garden of the Fugitives looks like now (and, just below, in the recent past):

This is the way the Garden of the Fugitives looks these days; the landscape has been changed considerably.

This is the older version of the Garden--but the tour groups remain the same; the plaster casts are displayed in the large shed.

(Thank you, Rick Bauer, for the updated photo of the Garden)


To display the casts in the Garden, a shed was built to protect the plaster from the elements.


 The thirteen casts protected in the Garden of the Fugitives


Amedeo Maiuri, who was the superintendent of Pompeii at the time of the discovery in 1961, was an archaeologist who liked to imagine stories that fit the nature of his discoveries. At least this was true of some of his discoveries at Pompeii. No sooner had the thirteen bodies been created at Pompeii than Maiuri had concocted a story based on very little fact. He told the story in the November 1961 edition of National Geographic ("Last Moments of the Pompeians").

A mother and daugher, according to Maiuri

He described the thirteen as three groups of families--two farm families and a merchant's family:

When the band [of thirteen fugitives] decided to flee, first [in this family group] came a servant, carrying over his shoulder a bag hastily filled with provisions. We found him where he fell, near the wall of a vegetable garden.... Next, hand in hand, came the farmer's two little boys of about four and five... Finally came the children's parents, the farmer supporting his trembling wife. ,

Behind the farmer's family came a young farm couple with their daughter.... In the case of the daughter, the stream of plaster failed us. We have only the vague outline of what seems to be a slender, undernourished child.

The merchant--but how could Maiuri have known?Last came the merchant's family--two young boys in their teens, followed by their mother and a younger sister.... The final figure in that pageant of death was the merchant, to me the most tragic of the group. He was not lying down but still sitting upright with his right arm pressed against a mound of earth and his back bent in a supreme effort to rise....


For more information about the plaster casts of Pompeii, read Bodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii Widgets Widgets



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