Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Escape from Pompeii

Discovery Channel News reports the reconstruction of the final hours of a prominent Pompeii family who perished following the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius, by analyzing the layers of volcanic ash and examining the DNA from skeletons found in the home. This is a perfect opportunity to show the connection between science and the study of Latin and the Classics. This article is accompanied by some excellent links to a slideshow and podcast and extension activities. Latin teachers who use the Cambridge Latin Course Unit I will find this reconstruction particularly relevant, but it will be of interest to anyone fascinated by life in Ancient Rome. A great deal of our modern understanding of the Ancient Romans comes from the archaeological evidence excavated at Pompeii and Herculaneum, in combination with accounts from historical and literary texts (see Pliny VI, 16, 20 for a Latin language account of the catastrophe.)

If you live near or will be travelling to Washington D.C. this winter, the National Gallery of Art is hosting Pompeii and the Roman Villa, a major exhibition featuring art, objects and artifacts pertaining to the disaster. Visit the NGA site for video background, exhibition guides, links to podcasts from behind the scenes, and information about related tours, lectures and talks.