Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Casts of Pompeii

Of the thousands of inhabitants, buildings, and artifacts buried in Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in August of A.D. 79—entire houses decorated with vibrant wall paintings, ovens with bread still baking inside, hoards of precious jewelry and coins—there are none so affecting as the people and animals who were the volcano's victims. In 1860, Pompeii’s director of excavations Giuseppe Fiorelli developed a way to, in a sense, bring them back to life by creating plaster casts out of the voids left by the decay of organic materials in the hardened ash and pumice. Many of the casts are in dire need of conservation, and the current archaeological superintendency is now undertaking the task of moving, conserving, and restoring 86 of the 103 casts that were made, using both traditional techniques, as well as the latest technology, to ensure that they survive long into the future as well. Below are images of some of the most compelling casts.               

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