6 January 2010
This afternoon we went to the Pompeii exhibition at Te Papa. It was amazing: both beautiful and eerie. The artifacts from ordinary Roman life, like the wine amphorae, the beautiful gold jewellery (especially a gorgeous gold "snake" chain about 2 feet long, apparently worn crossed over a woman's chest...), the polished stones for weights, the stone ovens, pestles, plates etc were beautiful: such craft and skill in the making of them! The statues of the household gods were also amazing, and there were some tables and garden statuary retrieved from the triclinium and hortes of a villa that were really beautiful.
Then there was the eerie: the plaster casts of the bodies. It was very tastefully presented: in a separate section, with notices on the walls before one went in to warn people what was there. I went in first by myself to check it out to see if it was okay to take in small daughter - once I came out, I sat down and explained to her what it was we were going to see. She said she wanted to see it, so we all went in. I was carrying her so she could see, and I explained carefully what each of the casts was. She was very quiet, but asked some quite intelligent questions about it. At the end of the gallery, they had a terracotta bowl of holy water (water is also used in Maori ceremony for purification), which I thought was a nice touch. We all used it, and then small daughter and I sat down and prayed for the victims of Pompeii.
There was also a rather incredible 3D presentation of the eruption which was amazingly well done - it really gave the feel for what the ordinary Pompeiian might have experienced.