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4.1 out of 5 stars16
4.1 out of 5 stars
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This hour-long TV documentary is a couple of years old, and has probably been released in 2013 because there's a major exhibition of items from Pompeii and Herculaneum on display in London this year.

This is one of the first TV documentaries which Mary Beard presented, and is based around her book. She comes over as massively knowledgeable on the subject; enthusiastic and approachable; extremely keen to convey the nitty gritty and daily realities of life for normal Roman folk. So there's a lot of chat about graffiti and grubby streets, and the dubious hygiene of the sweaty public baths...
The show includes a few staples of modern archaeology, like using forensic techniques to investigate a group of skeletons which weren't destroyed by the ash. So the experts use bone and teeth samples to sketch out the wealth, health, height and diet of the population (and even comment on their sex lives). Also the less appealing process of examining sewage waste to determine what food was regularly eaten - sea urchins, no less!
This is pretty much a no-frills documentary, based around evidence and experience rather than actors in togas and cutting-edge CGI. Mary Beard doesn't dress up herself and she concentrates on uncovering daily realities for 'normal' people, folks who lived in block of flats, and who were remarkable only for the way in which they died. It comes close to demonstrating what life might have been like 2000 years ago for the people of Pompeii.

I didn't learn a huge amount more than I already knew about the subject, but I appreciated Mary Beard's insightful comments and her down-to-earth presentation.
8/10

Sits well alongside Mary Beard's more comprehensive series: Meet The Romans Presented by Mary Beard As Seen On BBC2 [DVD] which is thoroughly recommended.
11 comment7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 June 2013
I recommend this DVD as it gives a wonderful window on the life of Pompeii. I always enjoy Mary Beard's commentary on history.
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on 5 August 2013
I enjoyed the down-to-earth view of Pompeii and the obvious enthusiasm that Mary has for her subject. Having been to Pompeii some years ago, it was equally interesting to see some things that weren't discovered then and I especially liked the contrast between old Pompeii and modern-day Naples when she showed us that there is nothing new.
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on 20 October 2014
Really enjoyed Mary Beard presentation on Pompeii. I visited the site in September and watched this when I got back, it really added to the experience and my understanding. Mary tell's it in her own enjoyable, down to earth way.
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on 9 January 2014
really god information but no good as no subtitles. Excellent information and well presented information about a fascinating piece of world history
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on 27 October 2013
I have been to Pompeii and to the recent exhibition. This video is absolutley first rate and I thoroughly recommend it
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on 3 December 2013
Having visited Pompeii this was a very entertaining and useful follow up to the experience. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about life in a roman city.
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on 1 August 2013
Great background for teachers to get ideas about what direction to pursue (year four). However I did have to watch it carefully first because Mary is very likely to swear in unexpected places (eg she doesn't say "faeces" or "urine" - not swearing if used as an adjective the ways she does, but still not suitable for primary), in addition to some erotic bits like the numerous phalli decorating buildings and long examples of activities in brothels. If you can edit this out, the rest is wonderful. My children loved the piles of bomes coloured green which lead to lots of scientific questions.
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on 11 December 2014
A great DVD, capturing memories of a visit to Pompeii last year.
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on 1 February 2014
Mary Beard provides a vivid and eminently watchable intro to the buried city of Pompeii. It was invaluable prior to my two recent visits helping me home in on the most important parts. It is also very thought provoking. Everything she says is thoroughly grounded in verifiable scholarship but she has pleasant manner presenting facts clearly and making everything interesting. Combined with her book of the same name it was invaluable during a recent academic course on Pompeii and also very useful prior to visiting the recent Pompeii/Herculaneum exhibition in the British Museum.
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