One of the world’s top scholars on Pompeii, Clarke will describe ongoing research at Villa Poppaea. Located three miles from Pompeii, the luxury villa may have belonged to Nero’s second wife, Poppaea Sabina. Excavations thus far have uncovered 99 rooms in the fabulous villa on the Bay of Naples. Pompeii and the surrounding area were buried in a massive volcanic eruption in 79 CE.
The Masters Series program coincides with the re-opening of the Museum’s Classic Court. That gallery has been closed since early January for a reinstallation of ancient art in the Museum’s collection and enhancements to its display.
Free and open to the public, Clarke’s presentation is sponsored by the Museum Ambassadors with additional support from the Archaeological Institute of America–Toledo Society.
Clarke co-directs the Oplontis Project, a collaboration of 45 scholars worldwide with the Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii and the King’s Visualisation Lab (King’s College, London) that involves conducting a systematic study of the Villa of Poppaea at Torre Annunziata. The villa dates back to 50 BCE-CE 79 and was found purely by chance in 1598, though previous excavations were poorly documented.
With the discovery of new archives, Clarke has been able to solve many of the villa’s mysteries and to shed new light on the roofing systems, the upper stories, the planting of the gardens and the integration of slave-quarters with the exceptional and extensive luxury spaces of the villa. Clarke also is chief editor of a four-volume electronic publication now in production that includes a fully navigational three-dimensional digital model of the villa. He will demonstrate key features of the electronic book as part of his presentation. The e-book permits readers to explore features such as wall paintings, pavements, finds and sculpture in real time.
The guest speaker earned his doctorate in ancient art history at Yale University in 1973. He taught at the University of Michigan, the University of California in San Diego and at Yale before joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin in 1980.
He has published seven books and more than 75 articles, essays and reviews about ancient Roman art, architecture, visual culture, contemporary art and theory. During the past 15 years he has focused on how visual representation can shed light on ancient Roman attitudes toward the practices of everyday life.