Pompeii (B Format Paperback)


'Much of what you think you know about Pompeii may turn out, on reading this eye-opening book, to be wrong. The town was not full of brothels (Beard counts only one), its water engineering, pace the novelist Robert Harris, was pretty substandard (there may have been aqueducts, but there were no sewers) and the site didn't lie undisturbed until the eighteenth century (many townspeople, for instance, came back soon afterwards to dig up their valuables). Beard, a professor of classics at Cambridge, always wears her learning lightly, and in this outstanding book she has excelled herself, puncturing preconceptions and exposing a whole layer of myth about the world's best-preserved ancient town. The result is an often gripping piece of detective work that also offers a tantalising window into the reality of daily Roman life.' The Sunday Times History books of the year, Andrew Holgate

SKU: 9781861975966



'The world's most controversial classicist debunks our movie-style myths about the Roman town with meticulous scholarship and propulsive energy' Laura Silverman, Daily Mail

The ruins of Pompeii, buried by an explosion of Vesuvius in 79 CE, offer the best evidence we have of everyday life in the Roman empire. This remarkable book rises to the challenge of making sense of those remains, as well as exploding many myths: the very date of the eruption, probably a few months later than usually thought; or the hygiene of the baths which must have been hotbeds of germs; or the legendary number of brothels, most likely only one; or the massive death count, maybe less than ten per cent of the population.

An extraordinary and involving portrait of an ancient town, its life and its continuing re-discovery, by Britain's favourite classicist.