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Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery

Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery
Judith Harris

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The rediscovery of the Roman cities overwhelmed by the rage of Vesuvius is one of history's most extraordinary adventure stories. Pompeii Awakened revels in that adventure, and tells of the re-emergence of a long-vanished cosmopolis which profoundly inspired a later age - from its arts and architecture to its science, sex and religion. When Herculaneum, Pompeii' s sister in disaster, was located in 1709, that first discovery launched a frenzied scramble for buried treasure. Then in 1755 Pompeii too rose from its crust of volcanic rock, and the science of archaeology was born. Whereas Herculaneum had artistic, political and philosophical impact, the later discoveries at Pompeii spoke rather of domesticity - of cuisine and household architecture, tools, gardens and religion. To this day it is the only site to show what daily life was like in antiquity. However, the full story of Pompeii consists not just in its uniquely preserved classical villas and votives, but in the powerful response it evoked in the European cultural imagination. Here are the English, whose wealth, wet weather and classical education fostered a passion for Naples and its rediscovered cities.

We read of Sir William Hamilton discussing priapic cults with his near neighbour, the dilettante Richard Payne Knight, and of how the famous love affair of Emma Hamilton and Admiral Nelson saved the Heculaneum papyri from the French. Here too are the hosts who arrived from across Europe, and then from America - engineers and artists, dreamers and poets, photographers and cinematographers, whose reconstructions and remembrances of Pompeii have never ceased to resonate. Judith Harris brings the doomed city vibrantly to life. Pompeii breathes again through her account of the diverse people who sifted through its remains to catch a glimpse of themselves in the past. From the poetic souls who found a majestic melancholy in Pompeii's shatttered walls , to the tub-thumping Victorian preachers who denounced the city as akin to Sodom and Gomorrah, Pompeii Awakened uncovers many fascinating stories - of sex, science, love and death. The author has spoken to experts on three continents, flown over Pompeii in a hot-air balloon, delved into ancient diaries and descended deep underground to assess the latest discoveries of a lost world .

As the sleeping city re-awakens in her hands, Pompeii casts its spell once more, bewitching those who seek to unearth its buried secrets.

Author Info

Judith Harris has for 25 years conducted a weekly radio broadcast on Italian culture - especially archaeology - for the Italian national network, RAI. She has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine and The New Republic.


'A thrilling story... Judith Harris has done it full justice.'
John Julius Norwich

'An entertaining account'
Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement

'Skilfully interweaves the story of the town's evacuation with the evelopment of archaeology and insights into life in Roman times... The tale emerges from the pages as vibrantly as Pompeii does from the shroud of time.'
BBC History Extra

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781780769646
Publication Date: 29 Sep 2014
Number of Pages: 320
Height: 234
Width: 156
Illustrations: 8pp 4/4 plate section

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