Sunday, December 30, 2012

GODS, GRAVES AND SCHOLARS


In the year 1738 Maria Amalia Christine, daughter of Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, married Charles of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, and moved to Naples. The lively young Queen, who was of artistic bent, explored the spacious precincts of her palace gardens and discovered there a wealth of statuary and other carved works. Some of these had been found accidentally before the last eruption of Vesuvius, and others were dug up later on the initiative of a certain General d’ElbÅ“uf.
Delighted by the beauty of these antiquities, she begged her royal husband to let her look for new pieces. The King gave in because Vesuvius had been quiet for a year and a half since the great outbreak of May 1737.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

OUT OF THE ASHES

For 250 years, scholars have struggled to unroll and read a collection of 1,800 carbonized and crumbling papyrus scrolls found in the wealthy Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. 
In the 21st century, promising new multi-spectral imaging technologies - enlisted by the National Library in Naples and Brigham Young University - reveal text that has not been seen for 2,000 years. 
Out of the Ashes includes rare footage inside the partially excavated Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, where the scrolls were all found in the 18th century. Hundreds of works of fine sculpture were also unearthed at the villa, which was owned by Julius Caesar's father-in-law. The program also includes a description of the J. Paul Getty Villa in Malibu, Calif., which was based on the floor-plan drawings of the original Villa of the Papyri.
Ironically, the destructive force of the volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum preserved this collection of papyri; the library probably would have deteriorated if it hadn't been carbonized and sealed under volcanic material.