Everything from the exquisite mosaics in the villas of the wealthy to the remains found in kitchen drains reveals what the people of Pompeii loved to eat and drink. The Ashmolean’s 2019 summer exhibition will tell the story of this ancient Roman town’s love affair with food.
When the ash from Mount Vesuvius began raining down on Pompeii in AD 79, people in the resort-town were engaged in typically Italian activities – eating, drinking and producing food. Located in the sunny paradise of southern Italy, Pompeii was sandwiched between lush vineyards and fertile orchards to one side and the bountiful waters of the Bay of Naples to the other. The town produced more wine, olive oil and fish-sauce than it could consume and exported its gourmet products across the Mediterranean.
Many of the objects, on loan from Naples and Pompeii, have never before left the country. They range from the luxury furnishings of the Roman dining room, to the carbonised food that was on the table when the volcano erupted.