Penn Scholars Explore Famous Ancient City through Sunday Afternoon Pompeii Lecture Series

Penn Museum Series Complements One Day in Pompeii Special Exhibition at The Franklin Institute

pompeii-volcanoPHILADELPHIA, PA 2013—Ancient Pompeiians failed to recognize the warning signs of their famous entry into history. Perhaps the residents' libertine life of lavish dinner parties, evocative frescoes and raucous sex in this Early Imperial Roman town distracted them from noticing violent earth tremors as early as three days before Mt. Vesuvius' catastrophic eruption on August 24, 79 CE.

Beginning October 20, the Penn Museum invites the public to delve into the sordid, the scientific, and the surviving details of this ancient city with the Pompeii Lecture Series, a four-part series presented on select Sunday afternoons in conjunction with the Franklin Institute's special exhibition One Day in Pompeii (November 9, 2013 through April 27, 2014). Acclaimed presenters include Penn Environmental Science Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert Giegengack, Penn Museum Associate Curator Dr. Janet Monge, Penn Art History Lecturer Victoria Coates, and Penn Museum Curator Dr. Brian Rose.

All Sunday lectures begin at 2:00 pm. Individual lectures are $10 for the general public, and $5 for Penn Museum members and Franklin Institute members. For those inspired by the Pompeii story, the Penn Museum offers a full suite of Classical World galleries, featuring more than 1,400 artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome and Etruscan Italy—including marble and bronze sculptures, coins, jewelry, metalwork, mosaics, and pottery of exceptional artistic and historical renown. Pompeii Lecture series guests may explore the galleries following the program until the 5:00 pm Museum closing.

The Pompeii Lecture Series ( schedule follows:

Sunday, October 20 at 2:00 pm
Dr. Robert Giegengack, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Mount Vesuvius in Human History
Mount Vesuvius is the most active volcano in Europe and the Mediterranean; its explosive eruption in 79 CE produced a cloud of heated dust and gases that killed about 16,000 people in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the adjacent countryside. In this lecture, Dr. Giegengack discusses the history and science surrounding the eruptions of Vesuvius and other volcanoes in the Calabrian Arc.

Sunday, November 17 at 2:00 pm
Dr. Janet Monge, Curator, Penn Museum Physical Anthropology Section
Herculaneum: The Archaeology of Catastrophe—Life and Death in a Roman Resort Town
On a hot summer day in the bustling Bay of Naples, Mt. Vesuvius explodes and rains down superheated gas and lava from the core of the Earth onto the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Some inhabitants of Herculaneum escaped into beach caves used to store boats for the heavy marine traffic into the cove. Their deaths by heat shock, which instantly killed its victims by vaporizing their soft tissues while preserving their hard bony skeletons under layers of volcanic ash, affords a unique opportunity to study life and death among the ancient Romans in ways that are truly unique in the study of the bioarchaeology of the ancient world.

Sunday, February 16 at 2:00 pm
Dr. Brian Rose, Curator, Penn Museum Mediterranean Section
Dining and Lovemaking in Pompeii
The destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 CE allows us to reconstruct extensively the nature of daily life in an Early Imperial Roman town, especially the residents' attitudes toward food and sex. Dr. Rose presents an overview of those attitudes by examining the archaeological discoveries in both cities, including the wall paintings, mosaics, dining rooms, and food remains. The discussion also includes cookbooks and dinner parties as well as prostitution and same-sex relationships.

Sunday, March 16 at 2:00 pm
Victoria Coates, Penn Department of Art History
Visiting with the Ancients: Herculaneum, Pompeii and the Grand Tour
The Grand Tour, a phenomenon of upper-class young men from Northern Europe visiting the classical ruins of the south, was well established by the time Herculaneum and then Pompeii were excavated in the 18th century. Their recovery transformed the practice, however, adding a new de rigueur stop on the itinerary where eager antiquarians were promised an opportunity to directly encounter the Roman past. Victoria Coates explains how these elite travelers experienced the new excavations.

The Penn Museum (the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 300 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage.

The Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (on Penn's campus, across from Franklin Field). Public transportation to the Museum is available via SEPTA's Regional Rail Line at University City Station; the Market-Frankford Subway Line at 34th Street Station; trolley routes 11, 13, 34, and 36; and bus routes 21, 30, 40, and 42. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and first Wednesdays of each month until 8:00 pm, with P.M. @ PENN MUSEUM evening programs offered. Closed Mondays and holidays. Admission donation is $15 for adults; $13 for senior citizens (65 and above); free for U.S. Military; $10 for children and full-time students with ID; free to Members, PennCard holders, and children 5 and younger.

Hot and cold meals and light refreshments are offered to visitors with or without Museum admission in The Pepper Mill Café; the Museum Shop and Pyramid Shop for Children offer a wide selection of gifts, books, games, clothing and jewelry. Penn Museum can be found on the web at For general information call 215.898.4000. For group tour information call 215.746.8183.

Image courtesy The Franklin Institute.


3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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