In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted, spewing huge waves of volcanic ash and debris over the thickly populated Bay of Naples, and triggering one of the first recorded maritime attempts to rescue civilians by a military force.
The exhibition shows how the Roman Navy came to dominate the Mediterranean, creating a boom in maritime trade. Finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum—towns destroyed by the volcano—and from shipwrecks show the extent of this trade. As this was the only naval force remaining in the Mediterranean, Pliny the Elder was free to use it to aid the people threatened by Vesuvius.
Objects displayed include jewellery, ceramics, sculptures, frescoes from Pompeii and Herculaneum, artefacts recovered from ancient shipwrecks, and haunting body casts of some of Vesuvius’ victims.
Interactive multimedia and 3D animation are used to introduce the Roman Navy are evoke the formidable force of the volcano.