06 February, 2009

Naples Museum

So by now, I'm long overdue in giving an account of our class trip this past weekend to the southern Italy region of Campania. We took buses down to the notorious city of Naples on Friday for a tour of the Naples Archaeological Museum led by our Art and Architecture teacher, Dr. Flusche. The museum was great - one of the best archaeological collections in the world, with hundreds of mosaics, statues and other artifacts from the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The museum itself is a palace that once belonged to the Spanish Bourbon family, who initiated excavations at Pompeii. Much of the collection was once theirs, while another significant portion was once the property of the Farnese family, who were responsible for digging up lots of interesting artifacts at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.

In the olden days, archaeology was about the equivalent of the modern hobby which involves running a metal detector over a beach in hopes of finding a lost pirate stash. (The Bourbons and Farneses were more successful than your average modern treasure hunter.) Due to the unscientific attitudes of the searchers, a good many of the sites they found so fascinating are now in less perfect condition than many modern archaeologists might hope. Nonetheless, it was rather nice of them to leave us museums full of the stuff, and I rather wonder if the artifacts would have been nearly so well preserved if it had lain in the ground being buffeted by proximate building projects for another few hundred years.

Here are some photos from the Museum now. I'll have to ramble on about Pompeii a bit later, since I want to get up at 4:30 to go to Mass at St. Peter's tomorrow morning.

The Farnese Bull, a very famous sculpture

Farnese Hercules - This was supposed to be a rather humorous statue, since you've got a picture of Hercules, the strongest man to ever live, looking quite wiped out. Doubly humorous was the fact that it stood at the doorway of the workout room at the Baths of Caracalla.

A piece of the Alexander mosaic, found at Pompeii. The mosaic as a whole, which I didn't get a good picture of, depicts Alexander defeating the Persians.

Athena! Best goddess ever!

Now, this was my favorite.

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