Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
2316 West 1st Ave.
Spokane, WA 99201
Dr. Regina Gee (Montana State University - Bozeman)
This lecture explores the ancient history and modern re-emergence of two ancient Roman sites of the seaside town of Oplontis: Villa A (Villa Oplontis), a sprawling luxury villa with over one hundred surviving rooms, and “Oplontis B,” a commercial complex that contained apartments and an extensive wine export business. Both sites were buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year AD 79, the same catastrophic event that famously also buried the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. While Villa A exemplifies the delights of leisure, Oplontis B illustrates the necessity of commerce, two sides of the same coin showing how ancient Romans exploited the richness of the Bay of Naples. From her perspective as a senior research member of the Oplontis Project (UT Austin, Center for the Study of Ancient Italy), Dr. Gee will discuss the history of both sites pre-eruption, and the story of their modern retrieval and preservation. As a significant portion of the lecture, Dr. Gee will present her work on the frescoes of Villa A, which, when considered together, create a history of Roman wall painting spanning almost a century and a half.