Casts of volcano victims

By Niki D’Andrea

Pompeii today is a tragedy turned tourist attraction, but at one time, the ancient Roman city was an epicenter of activity and life. Guests at Arizona Science Center can get an unparalleled glimpse into the city’s former greatness in Pompeii: The Exhibition at Arizona Science Center. More than 200 items dug out from the ashes of the city, which perished in a cataclysmic eruption of volcano Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 A.D., are on view, from gladiator gear to kitchen utensils. Here are just five of the top artifacts from Pompeii visitors can see up close.

1. Casts of volcano victims

Casts of volcano victims

When excavations of Pompeii began in the early 1800s, excavators noticed there were gaps in the ash around the bodies. By pouring plaster of Paris into the voids, excavators were able to preserve the final faces and poses of the people of Pompeii.

2. Gladiator gear

Gladiator gear

Bronze shin guards and helmets worn by gladiators in battle are on display in the exhibition, along with wall panels telling the story of their purpose and existence as entertainers in fatal competitions.

3. Caligula statue

Caligula statue

Caligula, one of the most notorious emperors of the Roman Empire, was immortalized in this statue that was found in the ruins of Pompeii. One of Caligula’s ties to Pompeii was his mother, Agrippina the Elder.

4. Apollo statue

Apollo statue

This ancient bronze statue of Apollo, the Greek god of music and poetry, greets visitors to exhibition.

5. Jewelry


Jewelry salvaged from Pompeii and surrounding cities ranges from necklaces and earrings to signet rings and bracelets.


Pompeii: The Exhibition runs through Monday, May 28, at the Arizona Science Center, 600 E. Washington Street, Phoenix. Tickets for the exhibition cost $11.95 for adults and $9.95 for children ages 3-17 and also require the purchase of general admission to the center ($18, adults; $13, children ages 3-17). Exhibition tickets are timed-entry and reservations are recommended. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 602-716-2000 or visitazscience.org.

For more close-up looks at events around the Valley, visit our attractions page.