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Everything from the exquisite mosaics in the villas of the wealthy to the remains found in kitchen drains reveals what the people of Pompeii loved to eat and drink. The Ashmoleans's 2019 summer exhibition will tell the story of this ancient Roman town's love affair with food. (Click blue print above "Last Supper in Pompeii" for more).
When the ash from Mount Vesuvius began raining down on Pompeii in AD 79, people in the resort town were engaged in typically Italian activiies - eating, drinking and producing food. Located in the sunny paradise of southern Italy, Pompeii was sandwiched between lush vineyards and fertile orchards to one side and the bountiful waters of the Bay of Naples to the other. The town produced more wine, olive oil and fish sauce than it could consume and exported its gourmet products across the Mediterranean.
Everything from the exquisite mosaics in the villas of the wealthy to the remains found in kitchen drains reveals what the people of Pompeii loved to eat and drink. Many of the 300 objects on display have never before left italy - they range from the luxury furnishings of the Roman dining room to the carbonised food that was on the table when the volcano erupted.
The exhibition shows the extent to which the Romans inherited their culinary ideas from other cultures. Just as the empire absorbed land across the Mediterranean, so were the Greeks, Etruscans and other Italian peoples.
In the homes of wealthier Pompeians, some of the most interesting and enduring images of the Roman banquet are found, particularly the triclinium or dining room from the Greek "room of three couches". The exhibition will recreate the atmosphere of a Pompeian dining room with the frescoes from one of the city's grandest houses (the House of the Golden Bracelet); beautiful mosaics from triclinium floors; silver dinnerware; and elaborate funishings like the four foot statue of Apollo made to bear a tray for favoured diners.