Exhibition review: The story of Pompeii and Herculaneum is a familiar one. Yet this blockbuster approaches it from a fresh angle, focusing particularly on the domestic lives of the people smothered by Mount Vesuvius’s eruption in AD79.

Themed to reflect the various rooms of a Roman villa, the exhibition has a beautiful garden room at its core piped with birdsong and surrounded by gorgeous frescos. Artefacts, including the cast of the iconic Pompeii guard dog and a wall painting of the baker Terentius Neo and his wife, feature alongside objects that have never before left Italy and there are enthralling touches, such as children’s wall scrawlings.

Herculaneum was buried first and has received less attention but it was only there that the conditions were right for the carbonising of wood, leather and food; it’s astonishing to see a baby’s crib so perfectly preserved.

There are also frank pictorial depictions of sex…

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By BeEtLjOoZ

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