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Scandalous Archaeology: Sex and Symbolism in the Roman World

3:00 - 3:45pm

*Whilst open to all to attend, parental discretion is advised on bringing children to this talk. There will be frequent references to artwork that includes sexual imagery (similar to the image on the right of this page) that will be displayed throughout*

The Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were rediscovered during the Eighteenth Century. As well as providing modern society with a window on to the art, local politics, and religion of first-century Italy, these two ordinary settlements disclosed a more shocking aspect of Roman daily life: the pervasiveness of the erotic and the sexual. Pompeiian thoroughfares bore street-signs showing phalluses, and the homes of Herculaneum were littered with decorations and objects displaying phallic shapes, shattering the illusion that the ancient Romans were an austere people. Were the Romans obsessed with eroticism and pleasure, or is there more to this story? How did contemporary society react to these findings? In turn, what can this tale tell us about sexuality - ancient and modern – and how we relate to the ancient past? Join Kathryn Thompson to find out.

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Scandalous Archaeology