New U-M Museum Exhibit Features Items from Ancient Villas Near Pompeii


An exhibit featuring more than 200 objects from two villas near Pompeii, Italy that were buried in lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, is now on display at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor.

Elaine Gazda, exhibition curator and curator of Hellenistic and Roman antiquities at the museum, says the exhibit focuses on two structures at Oplontis, a town near Pompeii. One structure is an enormous villa that may have belonged to the family of Roman Emperor Nero’s second wife, and the other was a center that was used to trade wine and produce. The exhibit runs through May 15.

“The phenomenon of luxury villas developed in a period after Rome had conquered most of the ancient Mediterranean world,” Gazda says. “A tremendous amount of wealth followed, and though it countered conservative Roman values, the generals and others of high stature began to live like the kings whom they had conquered.”

Gazda says the exhibit spans three galleries at the museum, located at 434 S. State St., with the first gallery featuring marble sculptures, inlaid marble floors, and wall paintings from the villa. The second gallery has objects representing the commercial and domestic life of Oplontis, including shipping jars and pottery, while the third gallery introduces visitors to the history of the excavations, including a 3-D navigable model of a villa.