Bodies from the ash

James M. Deem

Book - 2005

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Subjects
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin 2005.
Language
English
Physical Description
50 p. : ill., maps
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (p. 47-48) and index.
ISBN
0618473084
Main Author
James M. Deem (-)
  • August 24 and 25, AD 79
  • Rediscovering Pompeii
  • The plaster bodies of Pompeii
  • Lives from the ash
  • Herculaneum's fate
  • A final excavation.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Gr. 5-8. On August 24, 79 C.E., the long-silent Mt. Vesuvius erupted, and volcanic ash rained down on the 20,000 residents of Pompeii. This photo-essay explains what happened when the volcano exploded--and how the results of this disaster were discovered hundreds of years later. A tragedy this dramatic demands an affecting text, but this one begins rather ploddingly with the events of August 24 and 25, and moves through the rediscovery of the city and the surrounding areas, with progressively more being learned. What the text lacks in excitement is made up for by the enormous amount of information Deem offers, some of which was acquired in on-site research. The excavations and body preservation techniques are explained in detail; everyday life in the city and the later tourist activity centered in Pompeii are also highlighted. But the jewels here are the numerous black-and-white (and some color) photographs, especially those featuring the plaster casts and skeletons of people in their death throes. The horizontal format, with pages looking as though they were partially bordered in marble, makes an attractive setting for the art. Excellent for browsers as well as researchers. ((Reviewed November 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4-8 -In A.D. 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted and within 24 hours, ash, pumice, and volcanic rubble had covered, and annihilated, the city of Pompeii. It was not until the 18th century that workers began to uncover the remains of this nearly forgotten, except in legend, city and its inhabitants. In this well-researched account, Deem retells the story of this devastating eruption, combining a lively text with photographs of the bones and artifacts that have been unearthed through the years. In 1863, an excavator discovered a fascinating way to study human remains. As bodies covered in hot ash and enveloped by volcanic material decayed, spaces were left around the skeletons. After the hollow areas were filled with plaster, the surrounding debris was chipped away, resulting in detailed plaster casts that preserved "imprints of the people's dying moments," showing their facial expressions and body positions as well as their clothing and possessions. Deem explains how scientists have used these molds and other evidence to piece together the life styles and final moments of some of the victims, and conveys these heart-wrenching tales. Dramatic photographs of the casts capture the horror of this event and help readers to envision day-to-day life in this civilization. With incredibly engrossing images and narrative, this is a powerful and poignant piece of nonfiction.-Jodi Kearns, University of Akron, OH [Page 164]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Details the events that occurred when Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried Pompeii in 79 A.D., focusing on how this information was deduced from the skeletons found by archaeologists at the site.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Provides an examination of the bodies found buried in the ashes of the ancient city while exploring the life and times of these people, the events that led to the destruction of their civilization, and the archeological discoveries being made at the site's location today.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In ancient times, Pompeii was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. Its 20,000 inhabitants lived in the shadow of Vesuvius, which they believed was nothing more than a mountain. But Vesuvius was a volcano. And on the morning of August 24, A.D. 79, Vesuvius began to erupt. Within twenty-four hours, the entire city of Pompeii—and many of its citizens—had been utterly annihilated.It was not until hundreds of years later that Pompeii saw daylight again, as archaeological excavations began to unearth what had been buried under layers of volcanic rubble. Digging crews expected to find buildings and jewelry and other treasures, but they found something unexpected, too: the imprints of lost Pompeiians, their deaths captured as if by photographic images in volcanic ash.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In ancient times, Pompeii was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. Its 20,000 inhabitants lived in the shadow of Vesuvius, which they believed was nothing more than a mountain. But Vesuvius was a volcano. And on the morning of August 24, A.D. 79, Vesuvius began to erupt. Within twenty-four hours, the entire city of Pompeii'and many of its citizens'had been utterly annihilated.It was not until hundreds of years later that Pompeii saw daylight again, as archaeological excavations began to unearth what had been buried under layers of volcanic rubble. Digging crews expected to find buildings and jewelry and other treasures, but they found something unexpected, too: the imprints of lost Pompeiians, their deaths captured as if by photographic images in volcanic ash.