The Untold Roman Rescue
International exhibition featuring 2,000 year old artefacts from Pompeii, Sicily, Naples and Rome.
Many people know of the tragic eruption in 79 AD that buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum under huge avalanches of volcanic ash and debris, preserving them and the eruption’s victims for 2000 years. Few, however, would know that the Roman navy attempted to evacuate people affected by the eruption or its important role in the success of the Roman Empire.
The fleet was led by the fleet’s commander Pliny the Elder, who was not a military man – he was famous for his writings, not for any warlike exploits. In 79 AD he had just completed his Natural History, an encyclopedia of how the Romans understood the world around them – a reference work for the masses that would continue to be used for the next 2,000 years.
We know of the rescue attempt through the letters of his nephew Pliny the Younger. Around 17 years old at the time of the eruption, he was living with his uncle and his mother at the naval base at Misenum, across the bay from Pompeii. He was asked many years later to write an account of what happened to his uncle on that fateful day – it is the only surviving firsthand account of the disaster and the attempted rescue of civilians by the Roman navy.
The exhibition brings to Australia rare artefacts from sites from around the Bay of Naples: Pompeii, Herculaneum and lesser-known ones such as Baiae, Puteoli and Misenum. They give insight into the lives of sailors of the Roman fleet and to the people who lived on the Bay of Naples, considered by many Romans to be the most beautiful place on earth – that was, until the eruption.
Visitors will see:
Play our online game Pompeii Trader and get a glimpse at what life was like in a busy Roman port, and learn about the items imported and exported all across the Roman Empire.
Hear what Pliny the Elder had to say about Garum (fish sauce) from Rome and Emeralds from Egypt. Play Pompeii Trader.
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Escape from Pompeii is developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum and Western Australian Museum in association with Expona and Contemporanea Progetti.
The museum has partnered with our friends at Foxtel's HISTORY channel to produce a range of short videos exploring some of the key themes of the exhibition.
In this series – to be aired on HISTORY – and also available here online - we delve into ancient maritime archaeology from the bay of Naples, uncover the life of Pliny, and gain a better understanding of the surprisingly sophisticated life of the citizens of Pompeii.
Our special thanks to all the museums who have lent objects used in Escape from Pompeii:
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Parco Archeologico dei Campi Flegrei
Soprintendenza Speciale di Pompei
Museo della Nave di Comacchio
Soprintendenza del Mare
Australian Centre of Ancient Numismatics Studies
Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University
Nicholson Museum, Sydney University Museums
Extended to 6:00 pm in January
Last boarding time for Submarine and Tall Ships – 4.10pm
Closed Christmas Day 25 December.
+61 2 9298 3777
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© Copyright 2013
Australia National Maritime Museum
Every day 9.30 am - 5 pm
Extend to 6.00 pm in January
Closed Xmas Day 25 Dec.
2 Murrey Street
sydney NSW 2000, AU
+61 2 9298 3777