Pompeii wall painting Eacini "Eruption" There have been many disasters in this world, but few which have given so much delight to posterity. There have been many disasters in this world, but few which have given so much delight to posterity.

Pompeii Awakened, A Story of Rediscovery
by Judith Harris

Publisher: I.B. Tauris & C. Ltd., London, 2007, 2014

Rediscovery of the cities lost to Vesuvius is one of the great adventures of mankind. POMPEII AWAKENED chronicles that adventure and its enduring impact, from the arts and architecture to science, sermons, sex, the movies and politics.

Explorations began three centuries ago as an aristocratic hunt for buried treasure, but, as archaeology slowly developed into a science, Pompeii-explored before the Roman Forum or Egypt-became its testing ground, for better or for worse. In these pages we will relive the earliest excavations and tour the most recent.

The real story of Pompeii, however, is found not only in its preserved structures and paintings, testaments to a bygone civilization, but also as it emerges, full of life and in vibrant color, through the people who ransacked its ruined remains.

Countless lively characters people these pages: an Austrian cavalryman in love with a Neapolitan princess, an obsessed Russian artist, a Swiss engineer who died from his explorations, an English novelist who saw Vesuvius in his explosive marriage, an icy American financier whose sole real passion was for antiquities, and a brilliant Italian archaeologist who ran Pompeii from a prison cell. Not least: Mussolini, who read racial superiority in the ravaged ruins.

The often quixotic rulers of Naples, eager to boast of a glorious ancient heritage, initially claimed all the findings as their own and kept foreign scholars and rival collectors at bay. But Pompeii has always belonged to the wider world. From Russia to America the outsiders arrived. Enamored of sunny Naples, they settled there to admire, to paint, to copy, to buy and to steal the treasures of Pompeii. Later Pompeii was used as a political showcase and a deeply emotional setting for grand opera, circuses and movies.

The visual impact was particularly strong in Napoleonic France and Victorian England, with the result that Pompeii is all around us, from post office and court house to Buckingham Palace.

Retracing the three centuries of excavations and their impact, this unusual book itself becomes a work of archaeology—an exploration of the second life of the ancient cities lost to Vesuvius, addressed to those who have already visited Pompeii and wish to know more, to future visitors (and Pompeii attracts two million annually), and to the armchair traveler fascinated by the adventure of rediscovery.




Pompeii Awakened Cover

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  I.B. Tauris
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Pacini's House of SallustPacini's setting for the House of Sallust



Schinkel in naples 1824Schinkel in naples 1824