in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius

It’s become a bit of a sum­mer tra­di­tion now, my sis­ter and I going to the ROM :)

This year the fea­ture exhib­it is Pom­peii. I loved learn­ing about Pom­peii when I was a kid! :D (and had dreams about becom­ing an archae­ol­o­gist or a pale­on­tol­o­gist, and once in a while I won­der about what my life would be like now if I had fol­lowed my dreams… any­way, I digress)

Usu­al­ly when I hear about Pom­pei­i the images of the body casts come to mind. And there were casts of the body casts in the exhib­it too. But I found myself more attract­ed to mar­velous mosaics, made of tiny, prob­a­bly 1mm x 1mm pieces of clay. I’m quite sur­prised by how well these were pre­served, despite the fire and the heat of the vol­cano eruption.

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I imag­ine the arti­san’s hand, plac­ing these clay chips one by one care­ful­ly onto wet grout, trac­ing the lines on the face, the sub­tle tonal vari­a­tions of the skin.

And this is my favourite in the exhib­it, the spec­tac­u­lar sea life mosaic.

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The phone pho­to real­ly does­n’t do it jus­tice. It is quite large in per­son. Looks like the octo­pus is bat­tling a lob­ster-like crea­ture. Here’s a close up of the octo­pus, made of many tiny tiles.

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This must have tak­en a long, long time to make. I imag­ine the artisan(s) tak­ing a step back after the last tile was put into place, and feel­ing incred­i­ble joy and sat­is­fac­tion when they saw what they have created.

I was also sur­prised by the sur­vival of the many fres­coes, like this one, of seafood.

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Intrigued by the sculp­ture’s very intri­cate hairstyle.

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Figs and bread car­bonized in the eruption.

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There was also a video pro­jec­tion show­ing the erup­tion, with this wide-eyed stat­ue in front of it. Looked to me like it was frozen in terror.

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Mike went on this trip with my sis­ter and me, and he had­n’t been to oth­er parts of the muse­um for a while, so we also toured the dinosaur gal­leries and the bio­di­ver­si­ty gallery. There was an exhib­it of the new dinosaur dis­cov­ery! And! This is a 3‑D print­ed model!

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Wen­dicer­atops pin­hor­nen­sis, named after the Cana­di­an fos­sil hunter, Wendy Slo­bo­da, who dis­cov­ered it in Alber­ta, Canada :)

In the bio­di­ver­si­ty gallery I was hop­ing to find a dis­play of fun­gi. I’ve been to this part of the muse­um many times, but I thought maybe I’ve always missed it. Final­ly I found it, repli­cas in the Bore­al For­est sec­tion, I think, as well as a draw­er of dried mush­rooms that were dif­fi­cult to tell what they actu­al­ly looked like before they were picked. I was a bit dis­ap­point­ed that there was­n’t a larg­er dis­play of more species of fun­gi and mush­rooms, but this is still nice :)

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So that was the end of our adven­ture to the ROM. I hope you will get a chance to vis­it if you’re ever in the neigh­bour­hood! :D I’m look­ing for­ward to find­ing out what next sum­mer’s fea­ture exhi­bi­tion will be! Maybe it will be on the diver­si­ty of mush­rooms and fun­gi! :D One can always dream… (I once saw a course at a local uni­ver­si­ty titled “Mush­rooms: Lords of the Dark Earth”. I so want­ed to take the course but it was­n’t being offered any­more… anyway.)

Hope every­one is hav­ing a good week!



6 thoughts on “in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius

  1. I share your fas­ci­na­tion with the “tile” pic­tures-they are so very beautiful.

  2. Hi Trish,

    Yes, they are very beau­ti­ful and so clever. The ancients real­ly seemed to ven­er­ate their arti­sans and appre­ci­ate them a lot more than soci­ety does these days. I guess also no com­put­ers, tvs etc led to more time to prac­tice these skills.

    I saw the exact same Pom­peii exhi­bi­tion in Mel­bourne sev­er­al years ago and found it fas­ci­nat­ing. Was­n’t the film incred­i­ble? I will nev­er for­get that, the art and the casts, of course. And the figs. Amaz­ing how they sur­vived. Thank you for remind­ing me of this. I real­ly enjoyed this post.


    VB (in Sydney)

  3. Hi Trish,
    I agree — Pom­peii is fas­ci­nat­ing! I was so lucky to vis­it Pom­peii some years ago, when I was vis­it­ing Rome with my broth­er. A real­ly inter­est­ing place — and hav­ing a broth­er who is a his­to­ri­an it was like hav­ing your own guid­ed tour!

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