My little brother was one of those kids fascinated with geological catastrophes (and Star Trek, but that's another story), and he had all of those Time-Life books about volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tornadoes and other fire-and-brimstone-type events throughout history. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius was one of his all-time favorite calamities, and I, too, was fascinated with the myriad pictures of well-preserved corpses found under mountains of ash in Pompeii. Despite all of that exposure to the story of Vesuvius, I never knew that the damage done by the volcanic eruption in 79 A.D. extended to towns other than Pompeii. In fact, the nearby town of Stabiae met a similar fate that day. Stabiae was an upscale resort town for the Roman elite, sort of like the French Riviera for the toga set. When it was buried under ash and cinders, high-quality ancient frescoes dating back to 89 B.C. were perfectly preserved, as were a number of other artifacts and objects. The relics of Stabiae paint a vivid picture of what life was like for wealthy and powerful Romans. In From the Ashes of Vesuvius, In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite, the Dallas Museum of Art presents maps of the town, excavation photographs and the aforementioned high-quality frescoes and objects through October 7 in the J.E.R. Chilton Galleries at the museum (1717 N. Harwood St.). Visit dallasmuseumofart.org for more information.
July 8-Oct. 7, 2007