Friday, November 22, 2019

The Dead Speak


Nothing from Pompeii speaks to me more profoundly 
than the heart-rending casts recovered from its buried ruins.

A Young Woman Protecting Her Face
Her Dress Tangled around Her Upper Body 
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
January 9, 2013
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Most of Pompeii's 20,000 residents escaped during the first phase
of the volcano's eruption when it ejected a column of gas and magma
66,000 feet (20 kilometers) into the atmosphere
and rained ash and pumice on Pompeii for eighteen hours.

Two Men, Friends, Brothers, or Lovers
(Once Thought to Be Women ~  telegraph.co.uk )
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
January 9, 2013
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



About 2000 inhabitants who sought shelter in Pompeii
or who were unable to flee perished during the second phase of the eruption
when avalanching clouds of superheated gases and ash
raced down from the volcano and engulfed the city.
Many died instantly from extreme heat.


A Shackled Slave or Prisoner
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
January 9, 2013
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




People weren't the only living things to die.
The animal casts recovered are as gut-wrenching as the human.


A Domestic Pig
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
January 9, 2013
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




I've seen many photographs of the casts recovered from Pompeii
because I've been fascinated with the city and the volcano since I was a little girl.
They didn't prepare me for the reality of seeing the actual casts for the first time:
so big, so expressive, so alive in death.

A Man Shields a Woman's Face
To Comfort or Protect Her 
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
January 9, 2013
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Some of the most famous resin casts were displayed 
in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
a few years before I visited Pompeii.
I kept returning to the museum's exhibit to see the casts,
haunted by their humanity or sentience, their terror and suffering.

A Man Crouches Against a Wall
Covering His Mouth with the Edge of His Hooded Cloak
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
January 9, 2013
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



I didn't think about Giuseppe Fiorelli, the director of excavations
in Pompeii from 1860-75,
and his realization that cavities in the hardened ash
could be the molds of corpses or other organic materials.

I didn't think about his famous process of filling the cavities with plaster of Paris,
then extracting the hardened cast by carefully removing the surrounding ash.

Sometimes all you can absorb is hearing the dead speak.


A Chained Dog
Caught by Its Bronze-Studded Collar
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
January 9, 2013
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved






Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

A Very Overloaded Me 
after eight hours running around 
Pompei Scavi, Italy 
May 20, 2019
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved







For Map Lovers Like Me:


Location of Italy
Attribution: User:David Liuzzo



Location of Pompeii



Location of Modern and Ancient Pompeii


34 comments:

  1. Stunning to think people were frozen in their moment of death like that. Hard to imagine a force so powerful. I think the dog one is the most disturbing as you can clearly see his suffering.

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    1. Hi, Alex! Volcanoes are a powerful force of nature, and it's hard to comprehend the danger they pose ~ Like the Yellowstone supervolcano that I think about often. To me, the dog is the most powerful cast of all exactly because its suffering is vividly apparent. I deliberately didn't say much about the individual casts, because I wanted them to speak for themselves. The dog had struggled up through the falling ash and pumice that was accumulating during the first part of the eruption, but it reached the end of its chain and couldn't break free. Then it died in the pyroclastic surge. I hope that you are looking forward to a fun Thanksgiving with your wife and family!

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  2. "Gut-wrenching" is exactly the right word to describe these, Louise.

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    1. Hi, Debra! I hope that you and your Rare One are having a great day! Confronting these casts just inches from me was deeply moving. The entire busy exhibit and all the living people around me vanished, and I was alone with each one. Walking away from them was like waking from a vivid dream. I would sit and sip coffee alone in the museum cafe and gradually reach normal again.

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  3. It is astonishing how Fiorelli was able to see what those cavities were and preserve the story of these people.

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    1. Hi, Sandi! Fiorellii was an archeological genius, and at some point I will do a post about him. My brain explodes with ideas, but I can't produce them as fast as I think. I'm so slow because I check and verify over and over. It's a curse ~ LOL! Have a lovely day, Sandi!

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  4. So sad, and what detail in the casts.I am sure I would cry if I saw them in reality, almost in tears as I look at your photos.

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    1. Hi, Nancy! It's good to see you!!! I was moved to tears, by these and by the boathouse victims from Herculaneum, some of whom were also in the exhibit. But they're for a future post. All the best to you and Hugh! And big hugs!

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  5. Poor dog sure is the worst one there. Just to have your life stop and captured in an instance is interesting yet dreadful.

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    1. Yes, Pat, that poor dog is hard to take in. I sincerely hope my life stops in an instant. I would hate to linger on in poor health, especially if my mind went. Wishing you a great weekend. I hope you have some fun with your Rug Rats!

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  6. I didn't realize how detail they were in the remains.

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    1. Hi, Adam! The detail in the remains of the victims is remarkable and poignant. The pyroclast surge of the volcano that ended their lives was primarily toxic gases and fine ash. The fine ash was a good material to capture detail. Archeologists at Pompeii have spent the past year restoring and scanning the casts of 86 people who perished. The CT scans are revealing even more information. I've certainly been enjoying all the pictures of your family. The love your nieces and nephews are experiencing from their extending family is wonderful to see and so important for their development! Have a great weekend, my friend!

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  7. this made me quite sad dear Louise !

    once while watching movie about destruction caused by volcano i asked hubby why don't people move away from places such dangerous
    he said people commonly live in deserts ,beside ocean and dangerous volcanoes
    they love where they live and their love is stronger than their fear
    these are really touching views and shivering images
    but thank you most for precious smile you shared below
    your beautiful face and lovely smile lighter my soul :)

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    1. Hi, again, my special friend! I'm sorry that I made you sad, Baili! I am fascinated with everything about Pompeii, and I'm really studying it right now. I have a series of DVD lectures by Dr. Steven Tuck from The Great Courses company and hundreds and hundreds of my photos about Pompeii and Herculaneum. I hope to return to Pompeii late in the spring ~ fingers crossed ~ so I am highly motivated! I will continue to post about Pompeii periodically, but most of them won't be as gut-wrenching as this one.

      Thank you for your kind words about my photo. I had spent over eight hours racing around Pompeii, even in pouring rain! Terry had given up at least three hours before me and had retreated to the site's coffee shop and restaurant as the rain threatened. When they closed the coffee shop and restaurant and there was no sign of me, he went to the train station to wait and worry. It was not my finest hour I admit, but I had waited a lifetime to see Pompeii and I was going to see it! I was appalled when I realized how late I was and ran to the train station as fast as I could hoping that he hadn't already caught a train to Sorrento. He hadn't and greeted me with a very big hug and relief. When he suggested the possibility of returning to Pompeii this spring, the first thing I said was that I wouldn't desert him this time!

      I am so looking forward to this next week. All I have, so far, is a visit to an endodontist, and after the last few weeks, I'm excited about some down time. Wishing you an awesome week, my friend! Sending you big hugs!

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  8. Hi Louise,
    I just hope that all of these people and animals did not suffer as much as we think they did. I remember hearing a testimony of a stewardess who worked on a plane saying that she was engulfed in flames and yet felt no pain. I know that when I had my near death experience the pain was horrific but did not continue further than I could bear.

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    1. Hi, Brenda! I hate to think of you or anyone going through horrific pain! For a long time it was thought that these victims died of asphyxiation, and certainly they were breathing bad air (as evidenced by the young man covering his mouth with the edge of his cloak). Current thinking is they were killed instantly by extreme temperatures (around 300º C/ 572º F) when they were engulfed in the pyroclastic surge. Of course, they went through many hours of terror as the volcano erupted prior to killing them. Just a horrific tragedy. Wishing you a lovely weekend, my friend!

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    1. I get it, Rain! The casts are powerful artifacts from the volcanic tragedy that destroyed Pompeii. Fortunately, the 700 year plus history of Pompeii contains happier events. I hope you are doing well!
      Sending you a big hug!

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  10. So very sad.

    I know a story you'll want to read!

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    1. Well, you have definitely piqued my interest, Diane! Enjoy your weekend!

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  11. I visited Pompeii in 1952 as a young girl. I remember walking though the area like it was yesterday. We may be able to predict things better day, but the dangers of nature are still present.

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    1. Hi, NTNPNN! How awesome you can remember your childhood visit to Pompeii! I hope my memories last the rest of my life. While I was in the Naples area, Vesuvius was always on my mind. I know it will erupt again, and the next eruption is expected to be violent. Let's hope the emergency plan for evacuating the area works and that Vesuvius gives enough warning. I hope you are having a great weekend!

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  12. Most interesting to read Louise.

    Yvonne.

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  13. I have always been amazed by Pompeii, but have never visited. A few years ago I read Robert Harris’ novel by the same name-it was interesting. Great photos. Those images do capture the terror and suffering of those who remained.

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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    1. Hi, Jeff! Great to hear from you! I, too, have read Robert Harris' novel. I read it three times, once when the Pompeii exhibit was in Denver, later before I visited Pompeii, and then visiting the city. It was interesting, and if I have sufficient time on our next trip to Pompeii, I hope to see the underground water structures he featured around the Bay of Naples. I hope that you are doing well! Take care!

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  14. What a profound experience. It makes you want to weep.

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    1. Hi, Martha! I hope that you and George are enjoying a relaxing and fun weekend together! I have shed tears over these casts and others. Also the victims in Herculaneum. They all put a face on so many horrific tragedies throughout time. Sending you a big hug!

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  15. What a wonderful time, it looks like you've had.
    Sad about the people though.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Safe travels.

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  16. My daughter visited Pompeii on a high school trip to Italy. I don't think I could handle it.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Hi, Janie! I found it more poignant and fascinating than horrific, but then I've been reading about Pompeii all my life. Have a good one!

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  17. Wow. What an incredibly sad, but profound set of photos. I am not sure I would be able to handle seeing these in person. My heart would break all over again after visiting each one.

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    1. Hi, Theresa. I hope you're feeling better and better. The casts are heartbreaking to look at, especially isolated in a museum. I see these first in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Later, at Pompeii, I saw the dog again in a huge room filled with amphorae, other casts, all sorts of shelves filled with artifacts. The dog was still hard to experience seeing, but a little less though than studying beside it inches away. Take care!

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