Arizona Science Center’s Pompeii exhibit closes Memorial Day


TED SIMONS: ONLY A FEW DAYS LEFT TO CATCH THE ARIZONA SCIENCE CENTER'S EXHIBITION, "POMPEII," WHICH LOOKS AT LIFE IN THE ANCIENT ITALIAN CITY BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE CATASTROPHIC ERUPTION OF MOUNT VESUVIUS IN 79 A.D. PRODUCER SHANA FISCHER AND PHOTOGRAPHER JUAN MAGANA GIVE US A TOUR.
SHANA FISCHER: WE ARE HERE WITH DAVID, HEAD OF THE BLUE CREW. YOU TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING, AND YOU ARE AN EXPERT ON POMPEII, THE EXHIBITION. TELL US WHAT TO EXPECT ONCE THE DOUBLE DOORS OPEN?
DAVID GAMEZ: POMPE IS AMAZING. I LIKE TO THINK THERE ARE FOUR PARTS TO THE EXHIBITION. THE FIRST PART IS THE LIFE AND HOME OF A POMPE CITIZEN. NEXT GOES INTO THE DAILY LIFE, SOMETHING INCLUDED IN THE STREETS OF POMPEII. NEXT IS THE 4D ERUPTION THEATHER WHICH GIVES YOU A TIMELINE OF THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT VESUVIUS. WITH THE LAST PART ENDING WITH THE BODY CAST THAT WE HAVE IN OUR EXHIBITION.
SHANA FISCHER: THIS IS THE FIRST STOP ON THE TOUR, DAVID. WHAT ROOM DO WE SEE HERE?
DAVID GAMEZ: THIS IS THE GARDEN AREA OF THE EXHIBITION. IT'S UNIQUE BECAUSE IT'S RESERVED FOR THE HIGHER CLASS, WEALTHIER CITIZENS OF POMPE. WE HAVE FOUNTAINS MADE OUT OF BRONZE.THESE ARE INDICATIVE OF THE CLASS YOU WERE IN WHILE STAYING IN POMPEII.
SHANA FISCHER: THEY LIVED A GRAND LIFE, DIDN'T THEY?
DAVID GAMEZ: THEY DID. IT WAS LUXURIOUS.
SHANA FISHCER: THERE ARE THING IN THE EXHIBITIONS WE USE TODAY. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT, PLEASE?
DAVID GAMEZ: WE USE UTENSILS, FOLDING CHAIRS, THINGS WE FOUND IN THE REMAINS OF POMPEII.
SHANA FISCHER: EVERYTHING WAS PRETTY MUCH PRESERVED AS IS. TALK ABOUT THE PRESERVATION. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
DAVID GAMEZ: WHEN MOUNT VESVEIUS ERUPTED IT CAKED THE ENTIRE CITY IN ASH, PUMICE AND DEBRIS. IT ENCASED POMPEII IN ALL OF IT AND ESSENTIALLY BURIED IT THERE. WHEN PEOPLE CAME BY, THEY WERE ABLE TO EXCAVATE AND REVEAL THE ARTIFACTS. THIS STATUE IS AMAZING. IT'S 2900-POUNDS OF MARBLE. THE STATUE IS OF CA LIG LA A ROMAN EMPEROR. HE WAS DAMAGED IN THE EARTHQUAKE. IN MOUNT VESUVIUS 79AD, IT WAS IN STORAGE AND IT WENT THROUGH RESTORATION.
SHANA FISCHER: THAT'S ALL MARBLE?
DAVID GAMEZ: FROM THE FIRST CENTURY.
SHANA FISCHER: NOW WE ARE LOOKING AT THE GLADUATER EXHIBIT. THERE IS A COOL STORY ABOUT THE PRINT HANGING ABOVE.
DAVID GAMEZ: IT SERVED AS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE MOVIE "GLADIATOR" THAT CAME OUT IN THE YEAR 2000. IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE ORIGINAL PRINT, GO TO THE PHOENIX ART MUSEUM.
SHANA FISCHER: JUST BELOW THE PRINT THERE IS THESE HELMETS AND THE GLADIATOR WEAPONS, TALK ABOUT THESE THESE.
DAVID GAMEZ: THE HELMETS ARE UNIQUE. THE ONE ON THE LEFT IS FOR TRAINING. THE ONE ON THE RIGHT SIDE WOULD BE USED FOR BATTLE AND THE COLISEUM BECAUSE OF HOW DETAILED IT IS.
SHANA FISCHER: WE HAVE MADE IT TO THE THEATER PORTION OF THE EXHIBITION. SO A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THE STORY OF POMPEII SO CAN YOU TELL US THE THEATER PORTION AND WHAT WILL WE EXPERIENCE INSIDE THE THEATER?
DAVID GAMEZ: WITHIN 24 HOURS OF THE ERUPTION, ALL LIFE CEASED. YOU CAN RELIVE THE ERUPTION AS IT WAS OCCURRING. YOU WILL SEE SMOKE, FLASHING LIGHTS. IT'S AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE.
SHANA FISCHER: YOU SAY WITHIN 24 HOURS, LIFE CEASED. DID PEOPLE HAVE WARNING? DID THEY KNOW THIS WOULD HAPPEN?
DAVID GAMEZ: THE ROMAN CITIZENS DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A WORD FOR VOLCANO IN THEIR LANGUAGE. THEY HAD NO IDEA WHAT WOULD HAPPEN.
SHANA FISCHER: HOW WERE THE BODY CASTS MADE?
DAVID GAMEZ: THIS IS A BODY CAST OF A MOTHER AND CHILD. THEY WERE MADE DUE TO THE FACT THAT WHEN THE BODY DECOMPOSED, THEY LEFT CAVITIES. WHEN PEOPLE STARTED TO LEAVE THE AREA STARTED TO FILL THE CAVITIES.
SHANA FISCHER: TALK ABOUT THIS ONE.
DAVID GAOMEZ: IT'S ONE OF THE MOST WELL PRESERVED BODY CAVITIES. YOU CAN SEE THE EXPRESSION ON THE CHILD'S FACE, THE TUNIC. IT'S INCREDIBLE.
SHANA FISCHER: THE HANDS AND ARMS ARE ALMOST IN A DEFENSIVE POSITION. WHAT'S THAT ABOUT?
DAVID GAMEZ: THAT'S VERY INTERESTING. IT'S DUE TO THE EXTREME HEAT THAT CAME FROM MOUNT VESUVIUS, MUSCLES CONTRACT. THAT'S HOW WE GOT THESE BOXER LIKE IMAGES. IF YOU WANT SOMETHING EXTRA, YOU CAN PURCHASE AUDIO GUIDES FOR FIVE DOLLARS.
SHANA FISCHER: I KNOW WE ARE GETTING TOWARD THE END OF THE RUN FOR THE EXHIBITION AND YOU ARE DOING SPECIAL THINGS AFTER HOURS?
DAVID GAMEZ: YES, WE ARE DOING POMPEII AFTER HOURS, 5:00 TO 9:00 P.M. YOU NEED A TICKET FOR THAT. IT'S FOR POMPE THE EXHIBITION.
SHANA FISHCER: DAVE, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART?
DAVID GAMEZ: IT WOULD BE IN THE MARKETPLACE. IT'S AN ARTIFACT THAT'S VERY UNIQUE. IT'S A POT THAT HOUSED DOOR MICE. IT'S DELICACIES FOR THE POMPE CITIZENS. THEY WOULD TAKE THEM OUT AND EAT THEM.
SHANA FISHCER: TO GET YOUR TICKETS OR FOR MORE INFORMATION, HEAD TO THE WEBSITE.
TED SIMONS: THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

If you’re staying in town for the long weekend, check out “Pompeii: The Exhibit” at the Arizona Science Center, as it is set to close on Memorial Day.

The exhibit consists of four parts, from what life would have been like for a Pompeii citizen to a 4D eruption theater that provides a timeline of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The exhibit includes artifacts dating back to the first century and surprisingly well-preserved body casts.

“When Mount Vesuvius erupted, it just caked the entire city in ash, pumice and other debris,” says David Gamez, member of the Arizona Science Center’s Blue Crew. “It deposited about 12 feet of all of this debris. Essentially it just buried it. It was left there and preserved in such good condition that [archaeologists] were able to excavate these amazing artifacts.”

Within 24 hours of the eruption, all life in Pompeii became nonexistent. However, the deep layer of ash was able to preserve many things, from dining utensils to marble statues to human remains.

The Pompeii exhibit is self-guided, but audio guides are available for purchase for $5. Over the weekend, the exhibit will also be open in the evenings as part of a “Pompeii After Hours” event. For more information visit azscience.org.

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David Gamez: "Blue Crew," Arizona Science Center

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