Monday, November 22, 2010

Pompeii - Life in a Roman town 79CE

We took the opportunity of the Hari Raya Haji holiday to visit the Pompeii exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore. Pompeii holds special interest for us because Kenneth and I visited the actual site when we were touring Italy as part of the Europe student tour back when we were undergraduates. For Lesley-Anne, she studied Pompeii under history in sec 1.

For those not in the know, Pompeii was a bustling roman town with a population of about 20,000 until Mount Vesuvius erupted and completely buried the city in 4m of volcanic ash and pumice in 79 CE. It was then forgotten until the mid-18th century when archaeologists restored it.

Because it was completely covered, much of the infrastructure and objects were well preserved, giving us a rare glimpse into life back then. They even found complete casts of humans and animals in their exact positions when they died. Can you imagine the terror they must have felt?

Pompeii revealed that many of the modern amenities and conveniences we enjoy today already existed back then, the Pompeiians were very advanced in their day. They had a monetary system (left) and scales (right).

They had medicine with intricate medical implements (left) and an aqueduct system which supplied running water directly via lead pipes to fountains and public baths, which the Romans loved. This pic on the right shows a faucet. The Pompeiians even had a heated swimming pool!

Dice was a popular game and we were so amused to learn that even back then, they had loaded dice! Looks like cheating is as old as time.

Roman art and pottery was as refined and exquisite as they come. Here's a glass cremation urn and a fountain from a rich man's house with an elaborate mosaic fresco (wall painting).

And you thought the "Beware of Dog" sign was a modern invention! (Kenneth and I saw the actual one - it's made of mosaic and at the doorstep of a rich man's house. Hysterical!)

The Romans of course, are famous for their military might. This is a pic of their armour - shoulder and shin guards, and a small shield.

On the streets of Pompeii.

The exhibition is on until 23 Jan 2011. Tickets for adults are $12 each and local students get free entry. It's a super deal, visitors can take home a free activity pack and near the exit, loads of kids were crafting a paper gladiator helmet provided freely. That's what I call a child-friendly exhibition.


Lilian said... and Kenneth went on Europe tour before starting work? Rich ah...haha, just kidding.

Pompeii exhibition in Singapore, that's a must-see. I've never been to Pompeii but I hope the inhabitants had quick and immediate deaths :(

monlim said...

Student tour lah, very good value one! Stay at totally far-out, dingy hotels and hard roti for breakfast everyday :P

Looking at the casts of the people, I think the deaths were quite agonising. Pretty scary.

Kenneth KL Tan said...

Pyroclastic_flows travel 700km/h with 500degree Celsius temps....horrific but almost instantaneous

Elan said...

You did a student Europe tour too! Yes, I remember seeing Pompeii during my 2nd year at Uni too. Dingy hotels, student hostels and even a campsite (wooden cabins)2 hours out of Rome once, and plain pasta with no sauce for dinner!

Must bring my boys for the exhibition. I didn't realise Sec 1s did Pompeii - maybe ACSI syllabus is different ( only heard him talking about studying India and China).


monlim said...

Elan: Ken-Air right? Unbeatable price for number of cities visited!

I think the history syllabus is different for different schools, L-A did China too, but they covered Pompeii and other ancient civilisations. Even if your ds didn't study Pompeii, I highly recommend a trip to see the exhibition. It's very good :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. My boys wanted to go when they saw the posters at bus stops about a month back. I told them that we would, but totally forgot about it! Didn't know that they are free for kids. I presume pre-schoolers are condsidered 'students' right?


monlim said...

PeaTH: Yes, kids 6 and under get free entry too.

Anonymous said...

Hub & I went on the 1-mth Euro tour organised by Ken-Air too! Some others took the Chan Bros package instead and we met them at one tourist attraction, can't remember which one. Interestingly, of all the places we visited, Pompeii left me the greatest impression. Must be a weirdo.


monlim said...

SC: Not weirdo! After the many cathedrals and palaces, they all started looking the same. Pompeii was a fascinating and refreshing change.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommendation.
Would have to find time to squeeze this in.


monlim said...

QX: np, am sure your dd will love it!

Anonymous said...

Must bring my J there, she will love it!

Thanks for the recommendation, Mon.


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