Discover the story of the ancient Roman town of Pompeii’s love affair with food.

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 Romans voracious and enthusiastic consumers of customs and traditions of conquered peoples. The use of food in religion was clearly influenced by 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 furnishings like the four-foot statue of Apollo made to bear a tray for favoured diners.

Of course the diners of Pompeii were on borrowed time. The now-famous ‘resin lady’ of Oplontis was almost certainly a member of a family that owned a great emporium and would have dined in the fine apartments above the warehouse. She was found amongst 60 people who had taken refuge in one of the storerooms and had with her gold and silver jewellery, a string of cheap beads (perhaps a memento) and a door key.

ArchaeologyAncient & classical artOxford


Ashmolean Museum

Beaumont Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 2PH

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