Aspects of Antiquity: Pompeii Lecture

plaster models of human forms

Dr Estelle Lazer "Inside the Plaster: Scanning the Victims of Pompeii"

Date: Tue 28th Nov 2017 6:00pm-7:30pm

Location: Arts Lecture Theatre 1
Contact: Dr Bronwyn Hopwood  bhopwood@une.edu.au 6773 2216

Last year, forensic archaeologist Dr Estelle Lazer delivered two lectures at UNE on her work on the skeletons and casts of Pompeii. More than 250 people attended those lectures in person and online.

Now, a year on, Estelle is delivering a lecture at the University of Sydney exploring the surprising results of her Pompeian Casts Project. The Sydney lecture has already reached maximum capacity.

But don't despair - UNE's Aspects of Antiquity Lecture Series has organised, in collaboration with the University of Sydney, to host a special live streaming of Estelle's Sydney lecture.

Please Note: This talk is being streamed live from the University of Sydney to the University of New England, Armidale. USyd have informed us that they already have a packed house for the lecture in Sydney, and that contractual obligations with the Soprintendenza di Napoli prohibit audio-visual recordings of Estelle's lecture from being made and distributed. We are delighted, however, to be able to provide access to Estelle's talk via a live screening to be hosted in UNE's Arts Lecture Theatre 1.


The talk is completely free and you are most warmly welcomed to join us.

So, if you missed the lectures last year, now is your chance to discover what the buzz was about.If you made it to the lectures last year this is your opportunity to hear about the surprising and unexpected discoveries that Estelle and her team have made this year. As Dr Lazer's talks are always extremely popular, it would help us if you could RSVP below.

Dr Estelle Lazer "Inside the Plaster: Scanning the Victims of Pompeii"

Co-presented with the Department of Classics and Ancient History, in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry

The way Pompeii was covered by the eruption material ejected by Mt Vesuvius in 79 CE has made it possible to reveal the forms of organic remains preserved in the hardened ash. Pouring plaster of Paris into the voids created by decomposed soft tissue has created casts that were believed to be faithful renditions of those who died. In theory, the skeletons were embedded within the plaster casts of human victims and those of other mammals.

In 2015, Estelle Lazer and her team of experts commenced a project to CT scan and X-ray the casts of the Pompeian victims. The initial results of the CT scans and X-rays were surprising as they revealed that the actual production methods for the casts were quite different to the procedures that had been minimally documented in the 19th and 20th centuries.

This year, the University of Sydney and the Superintendency of the Pompeii Archaeological Park signed a Memorandum of Agreement, which makes the two institutions partners in this important project. In June 2017, permission was granted for the first time to transport plaster casts of victims from the site to the nearby local hospital for scanning in a state-of-the-art CT scanner that provided much higher resolution than the machine employed in the 2015 study.

The results of this season are providing us with new insights into the lives and deaths of these victims, as well as a better understanding of how the casts were achieved.

About the speaker

Dr Estelle Lazer, author of Resurrecting Pompeii (2009), is an archaeologist best known for her work on the human remains from Pompeii. In 2015, she was appointed as a consultant for the Pompeii Cast Restoration Project. Estelle works for Academy Travel and is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney.

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