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Pygmies and Crocodiles

In 79AD Mount Vesuvius near Naples erupted and covered the ancient town of Pompeii and its surrounding countryside in lava and ash. Although the disaster devastated the city at the time, killing its citizens and burying everything, the buildings and works of art were preserved for centuries under the ash. Since few paintings have survived, Pompeii is one of the few precious sources for much of what we know about ancient painting and decoration. In Roman frescoes and mosaics Pygmies were associated with Egypt and were used to portray the native population of Egypt, as they were believed by the Romans to live along the Nile. Pygmies and Crocodiles is part of a wall in the House of the Pygmies in Pompeii. This fragment is a humorous scene depicting the Hunt of the Crocodile. The Pygmies are running away from the animal. One of them has already climbed a palm tree; the other, armed with bow and arrows, prepares to follow his companion, turning anxiously towards the reptile as it comes out of the river in pursuit.

500 44cm x 65cm The House of the Pygmies, Pompeii, Italy


c.70 AD

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