Until late September, the British Museum is showing artefacts from one of the most famous and prolific of human catastrophes caused by a natural disaster. The event occurred in AD 79 when the Earth opened up and Mount Vesuvius spewed its red hot innards over unsuspecting Italians going about their daily business.
The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum lay buried for 1700 years until archaeologists exposed the secrets of their last moments before catastrophe struck.
The Italian authorities have kindly lent the British Museum 250 artefacts, many of which have never been seen before outside of Italy.
There are also life-size casts of some of the hapless victims – their last actions as human beings frozen in time only to be gazed upon by an awestruck audience nearly 2,000 years later. The human casts include a family comprising of two adults and two children, a particularly sobering reminder of how these people met their end. Also on display is an extremely famous cast of a pet dog in the exact same position as the one he died in as Vesuvius struck.
If you are looking for absorbing and thought-provoking things to do in London then it’s really worth visiting the British Museum to muse over the fascinating paraphernalia from this dark period in Italian history.
Imagine the grotesque firework display lighting up the whole Bay of Naples and the sheer power of the pyroclastic flow as red-hot ash, travelling at 200 miles per hour, forced its way into every nook and cranny, smothering and entombing all life in its path.
Only 500 tickets per day are released for this exhibition, so it could be a good idea to arrive early to avoid disappointment. The British Museum is situated on Great Russell Street and the nearest tube stations are Tottenham Court Road, Holborn or Russell Square.
For more information on the Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition and other impending events at the British Museum, visit the official website at britishmuseum.org.