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From graffiti to silver spoons: Pompeii museum comes back to life

The displays also document Pompeii’s history as a settlement several centuries before it became a flourishing Roman city.

Due to Italy’s COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions, currently only visitors from Italy’s Campania region, which includes the Naples area and the Pompeii ruins, can see the museum.

A Dionysus bust is displayed at the museum Antiquarium, in Pompeii.

A Dionysus bust is displayed at the museum Antiquarium, in Pompeii.Credit:AP

Pompeii is one of the country’s top tourist attractions, and when mass tourism eventually resumes, entrance tickets to the ruins will also include a visit to the Antiquarium.

The re-opening after so many decades of travail is “a sign of great hope during a very difficult moment,” Pompeii’s long time director, Massimo Osanna, said referring to the pandemic.

On display in the last room of the museum are poignant casts made from the remains of some of Pompeii’s residents who tried to flee but were overcome by blasts of volcanic gases or battered by a rain of lava stones ejected by Vesuvius.

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“I find particularly touching the last room, the one dedicated to the eruption, and where on display are the objects deformed by the heat of the eruption, the casts of the victims, the casts of the animals,” Osanna said. “Really, one touches with one’s hand the incredible drama that the 79AD eruption was.”

Large swaths of Pompeii remain to be excavated. While tourism virtually ground to a halt during the pandemic, archaeologists have kept working.

Just a month ago, Osanna revealed the discovery of an ancient fast-food eatery at Pompeii. Completely excavated, the find helped to reveal dishes popular with the citizens of the ancient city who apparently were partial to eating out, including what was on the menu the day that Pompeii was destroyed.

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