Bodies from the Ash

Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii

 

 

Bodies from the Ash tells the story of the victims of Pompeii. Plaster cast displayed at the Stabian Baths, PompeiiAfter Mt. Vesuvius erupted on August 24 and 25, AD 79, Pompeii lay buried until 12 feet of volcanic ash and debris for the next 1700 years. Some attempts were made to excavate the town, but no one was certain of its exact location. Finally, in the mid-1700s, the town was rediscovered. Along with the desired treasures (statues, marble, jewelry) that excavators sought for wealthy patrons, workers also uncovered many skeletons of people who could not escape. At first, these skeletons were placed in locations within the Pompeian ruins as curiosity objects. Later, under the direction of Giuseppe Fiorelli, the hollow space around some skeletons was used as a mold. Workers poured plaster of  Paris into the cavity; when the outer shell of the mold was chipped away, the plaster body of a person remained—an imprint of that person’s last moment alive. 

By studying these individuals and the possessions that they had with them, Fiorelli and later scientists attempted to piece together their stories. Bodies from the Ash describes what they have found and the stories they have told. 

 

Plaster cast displayed at the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii

 


Illustrated in color and black-and-white with over 50 images, many of them rare and many from the photography archives of the Pompeii Archaeological Site. For ages 8 to adult. Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2005.


Bodies from the Ash. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all contents ©James M. Deem, 1988-2013. 

For permission to quote from or reproduce this material, please contact James M. Deem.

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