Pompeii and the Greeks
The exhibition, curated by the General Director of Soprintendenza Pompei Massimo Osanna and Carlo Rescigno (Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli), is open from 12th April to 27th November 2017 at Pompeii Excavations, Large Palaestra.
Pompeii and the Greeks tells the stories of a meeting: starting with an Italian city, Pompeii, and examining its frequent contact with the Greek Mediterranean. By tracing craftsmen, architects, decorative styles and focusing on precious imported objects yet also Greek graffiti inscriptions on the city walls, the exhibition sheds light on the many diverse souls of an ancient city, and its temporary and unstable identity.
Over 600 finds are exhibited, including ceramics, ornaments, weapons, architectural elements, sculptures from Pompeii, Stabiae, Ercolano, Sorrento, Cumae, Capua, Poseidonia, Metapontum, Torre di Satriano and even inscriptions in their diverse spoken languages (Greek, Etruscan, and Paleoitalic), silverware and Greek sculptures reproduced in the Roman age. The exhibition is borne of both a scientific investigation and ongoing research which has for the first time shed light upon unknown elements of Pompeii; the objects, hailing from major national and European museums, are divided into 13 thematic sections and reinterpret places and monuments of the Vesuvian city with their own “biographies”, at a site which has ever been under the public gaze.
In this way the pre-Pompeii Greek presence is reconstructed, along with the forms of the archaic city and the changes imposed in the Gulf after the foundation of Neapolis - from the bottom of whose bay fresh materials will be presented - until the Hellenistic World and the idea of “Greekness” as conceived and received by the Roman World.
On occasion of the exhibition, documents and monuments which had emigrated, following the antique markets abroad, return to Italy. Among others on display will be the helmets donated to Olympia by the Syracuse Tyrant Hieron to celebrate the victory of the Cumaeans over the Etruscans, fought in the waters of the Gulf of Naples. It will be possible to rediscover, in the fragments of a monumental krater from Altamura, in Apulia, the story of the battle of Alexander the Great against Darius, in the same manner and and the same design as that which would come nearly two centuries later in the ‘Great Mosaic’ in the House of the Faun.
Starting from two drains, indeed two rubbish dumps, one found in the Athenian Agora, the great plaza of the heart of Greekness, and one in the porticoes of the Forum of Pompeii, one observes the many similarities between objects and tools which indicate similar ways of life in the two centres in the late 2nd century BC.
It will also be an occasion to marvel at the passion which these people had for Greek objects from the past. The line between original and copy will be blurred in a world which re-adopted images and inserted them, as if they were words, into new universes.
The exhibition, which occupies the spaces of the Large Palaestra of Pompeii, was designed by the Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and includes three immersive audiovisual installations curated by the Canadian studio GeM (Graphic eMotion).
The studio Tassinari / Vetta signs the visual identity project of the exhibition.
Pompeii and the Greeks illustrates to the general public the charm of a non-linear and multi-central historical narrative, composed of multiple and contradictory identities, as well as of layered languages which were consciously reused: the story of the Mediterranean. A narrative which indeed suggests and invites a comparison with and reflection on contemporary times, with its dynamism indicted by migrations and conflicts, meetings and clashes of culture.
The exhibition of Pompeii is the first stage of an exhibition program which is being carried out jointly with the Archaeological Museum of Naples: here, in June, an exhibition dedicated to Greek myths in Pompeii and in the Roman world will be inaugurated, on the theme of Metamorphoses.