By Iride Aparicio

Photos by: Gary Sexton Getty images, courtesy of FAM Museums    

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- A must visit this summer in San Francisco, is "Last Supper in Pompeii: from the table to the grave" unique exhibition, at The Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum in the city.  With authentic artifacts collected from the ashes at the original sites, walking  through the museum's galleries will transport its visitors, mentally, back to Pompeii, the ancient city of Campania Italy situated at 23 kilometers South West of Naples, constructed on a spill formed by a lava flow.

GettyImages-96683552 POMPEII I.jpg

For those who plan to visit "Last Supper in Pompeii" exhibition to fully understand the significance of each one of it many artifacts, (The name given to the objects presented in a museum exhibition.) exhibited in the galleries, we need first to dig into Pompeii's history, and learn that Pompeii was a unique city, where the cultural level of its people was very high, because since it was founded, Pompeii had been the site of many different cultures and because of it, its citizens, had absorbed the languages, manners, styles, foods, architecture, arts and ways of doing things from each one of those cultures.

Pompeii was originally settled in the Bronze Age, by the Oscans, who were the descendents of the Neolithic inhabitants of Campania, on an escarpment which had been formed by a long-forgotten eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a volcano, which like a giant could be seen at the distance towering over the picturesque city. The previous volcano's eruption had also endowed it with a favorable climate and a rich volcanic soil. ideal for agriculture, where they grew different grapes for wine, and olives.

By the 8th Century BCE, the city was Greek/Etruscan , because The Greeks had established colonies in Campania, where  the Etruscan were also settled, but after both the Greeks and the Etruscans were defeated by  the Syracusan a new culture, the Samnite who were people from the local mountains began to infiltrate and dominate the city. A century later, most of the Greek influence was changed and Pompeii reversed to its original Etruscan culture which remained until their sea power was destroyed by the Greeks during the 5th Century. So, an hegemony of Etruscan and Greek culture was the culture of Pompeii during the century..

By the 4th Century BCE the Roman influence was beginning to be felt around the three square kilometer of the city, which by then, was the favored city the rich Romans. Because of it, Pompeii reached its peak.  The outer suburbs were densely populated with luxury houses and farms, and in the city, one could see, mansions, stores, taverns shops and large buildings, including an amphitheater with a capacity for 5000 people. But it all ended when on August 24 on 79 CE, another eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, left Pompeii was buried in volcanic lava and ash..


Coming from years of excavations conducted by different  museums around the world, the exhibition's artifacts allow its visitors to see how the Pompeiians looked and how they dressed.


How the streets, in the city of Pompeii may have looked when its buildings and mansions were standing and there were statues in its main plaza.


And for those visitors who would like to read more about the history of city of Pompeii and its artifacts, the exhibition's catalogue, POMPEII, may be purchased at the museums (The de Young and The Legion of Honor) stores.

Reading the catalogue, we learned that many of the excavated houses in Pompeii were luxury homes, actually mansions with large rooms, where the most important room and the biggest in the houses was the dining rooms, which was called by the Romans Convivium, (the name derived from the Latin word Convivire which mean "living together") because in Pompeii, the dining room was the room where the Roman families got together to share their meals every day and also where they entertained their friends and guests. So, by tradition, this was also the room where the Pompeian's displayed their wealth, and where its decor, defined the home owner's rank in the Roman society. Because of it, the dining room was the most elegant room in Pompeii's houses.

All dining rooms were shaped like a Triclinium, the name coming from the Greek word tris which mean three and Kline which means "couch," because the dining rooms were usually equipped with three couches, usually set in a U shape,  for people to sit down. The sitting arrangement usually allowed the guest to sit overlooking, through windows, the elaborate gardens of vintages outside of the house. .In some houses, the dinning room was so large that its walls receded and the tricliniumcouches (the sitting area) was carved, on the walls of the room. The walls of the dining rooms were also decorated, usually were painted with elaborate designs.

Marin Scene.jpgPompeii VASIJA.jpg

And while the food was cooked in cooking dishes (shown at the exhibition) it was served to the guests on Silver ones.

The catalogue also mentions that in some houses, all around the dining rooms one could see elaborate statues representing Greek gods, carved in white marble.

6316-3 ESTATUA.jpg

Instead of carpets, the floor of the dining rooms were decorated with colorful tiles.

Determined the food eaten in Pompeii from the excavations of a city that had been for years covered in ashes and buried in lava was not an easy task.  The exhibition depended on the food remains found in the Pompeii latrines, which included bones of fish, and different seed of olives and grapes. But perhaps the highlight in the exhibition as far as food is concerned is the bread, which apparently was being cooked, on that 24th of August when Vesuvius buried Pompeii, and because it was inside and oven, it continued baking and we can see it today.

"LAST SUPPER IN POIMPEII, From the Table to the Grave"  exhibition may be seen at The Legion of Honor Museum located in Lincoln Park Golf Course, l00 34th Avenue in San Francisco, 94121 until August 29, 2021. The museum hours are from 9:30 AM to 5:15 PM Tuesday-Sunday

Timed tickets will be required for every visitor, including general admission and admission to LAST SUPPER IN POIMPEII. To ensure your preferred time slot, please reserve your entry date and time in advance online at: .

All tickets are timed for entry to allow for a comfortable and uncrowded gallery experience. Capacity has been reduced to under 25 percent of overall building capacity for your safety. For assistance in booking, members should call 800.777.9996 and non-members should call 888.901.6645.