Entombed beneath the ashes of Mount Vesuvius on 24th 79 AD, Pompeii is now being brought back to life and recovering its shape in the form of Ponipeya (Pompeii heneath Pompeii), an unusual exhibition currently showing at the Alicante Archaeology Museum until 18 February. The exhibition’s title alludes to a lesser known Pompeii, discovered beneath the streets and houses, whose evolution led to the beautiful buried City new preserved for eternity and which was described in the narratives of Pliny the Younger. The show takes visitors back to the city of Pompeii and to the home of Ariadna, who was disinterred in the 19th century and whose remains are now on display. The exhibition then moves on to research activities carried out by archaeologists from the Municipal Archaeology Service of Valencia and from the Marq, presenting results of the excavations in an educational format. Visitors are then taken back to the lands of Valencia, as the exhibition reveals the region’s links with Pompeii and the Italian region of Campania, with a particular focus on the first two centuries BC.
This exhibition explores a lasser known Pompeii, the early discovered beneath the streets and houses and whose evolution led to the beautiful buried city now preserved for eternity.
Through the use of Large-scale illustrations, the exhibition shows visitors the city’s shape and surrounding land, explaining Pompeii´s role within the Roman Empire by way of large Roman map copied in the Middle Ages. Focus then switches to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD and its aftermath, with plaster-cast reproductions of a dog and a man who both perished as a result. The ordeal suffered by the inhabitants is vividly portrayed and brought home by the screening of a documentary on the most recent major eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which took place in 1944. Information en the excavations, which resurrected Pompeii from beneath stone and ashes, is also provided on site. Then, before moving on to the house of Ariadna, visitors will see five notable and original murals from the city one of Pompeii’s great legacies to universal art.
The House of Ariadna
The degli capitelli colorati, thus named after the many colours on the capitals of the peristyle, was one of the grandest and most beautiful houses in Pompeii. An audiovisual display of infographic images depicts the current structure of the house, which boasts a surface area of 1,800 meters, and some reconstructed views of its inside. The story of its discovery and its rich decorations are dealt with by way of reproductions of its paintings or of 19th century images such as watercolours. There are also some original materials on display, including the beautiful capital that graced one of the entrances to the house.
This area looks at the results of the activities carried out since 2004, which have shed much light on the evolution of this great dwelling, and includes part of the archaeological material recovered. Most notable is the section of a great mural painting restored by the Archaeological Museum of Alicante, which gives visitors an idea of the type of decor that would have axisted in the house in its final years, and a cube-shaped installation suggested by an archaeological sounding, in which several screens show images of the excavation process, research into the materials, and the restoration work.
Campania and the Lands
Spain has received many products, ideas and people from the Italian Country of which Pompeii formed part. This exhibition focuses en Valentia et Lucentum (the Roman name for present-day El Tossal de Manises, Alicante) and shows prime examples of materials produced in Campania and found in the Country of Valencia, such as tableware, kitchen ceramics and amphorae used to transport wine. A number of Iberian recipients give an idea of the cultural environment surrounding these products, which successfully illustrate the phenomenon of Romanisation. Similarly, there are two axamples of mural paintings from the Valentia imperial age which reflect the Pompeii paintings that visitors will have seen earlier in the exhibition. Finally, evidence is also provided of people coming over from Italy in the shape of a Valentia tomb in which the burial ritual and funerary objects convey the Italien origin of the deceased, who was one of the early colonisers of the city of Lucentum founded in 138 BC, and who died there under the inscription Publio Fulvio Asclas. Publio Fulvio is the only native of Pompeii in the whole of Spain whose existence has been confirmed and who is known by name. At the very and of the hall, opposite the plaster casts at the start of the exhibition, are the unfortunate souls who lost their lives to Mount Vesuvius, and whose form remains imprinted in the ashas. It is these people who give meaning to the search for historical knowledge narreted here in the Archaeological Museum of Alicante.