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kwArt News > Pompeii unveils erotic frescoes
18/05/00 - 19:43 - Pompeii unveils erotic frescoes
Visitors to the ancient Roman city in December will be able to see a series of frescoes with explicit sex scenes. The display of titillating paintings in the restored public bath was inaugurated at the site near Naples


POMPEII - Italy unveils Pompeii erotica. Visitors to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in December will be able to see a series of frescoes with explicit sex scenes buried under volcanic ash 2,000 years ago. The display of titillating paintings and the restored public bath were inaugurated on Wednesday at Pompeii, one of the world's most-visited tourist sites, near Naples.
The bath, which has been undergoing restoration since the 1950s when it was discovered, was buried along with the entire city of Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It will open to the public in December in the famous city which has been painstakingly uncovered over the last 200 years, giving a unique glimpse into Roman life.
The frescoes with their scenes of explicit sex are expected to resurrect the debate over "scandalous" Roman art that raged last year when curators unveiled a collection of ancient erotica that had been kept under lock and key for two centuries. In that exhibition, more than 300 artefacts unearthed from Pompeii, Herculaneum and other ancient Roman towns outraged the Roman Catholic Church. The highlight of the exhibition at the National Archeological Museum in Naples was a marble statue of the mythological figure of Pan - the god of shepherds and nature - cavorting sexually with a goat.

The seven frescoes unveiled on Wednesday also depict lively sexual activity involving numerous partners and perhaps the only female homosexual scene on display in Pompeii. Tourist brochures will refer to the bath as the "Red Light Spa", although they say it was most likely not formally a house of prostitution.

"There is no element that would make one think the upper floor of the Subterranean Spa was a brothel, furthermore the archaeologists who led the dig have excluded that idea," said Antonio Varon of the Pompeii archaelogical heritage department.
At less than 100 steps from the entrance of the ancient town, the bath is expected to be a popular tourist destination especially among schoolchildren who already give their teachers the slip in order to get a peak other erotica in Pompeii. Only seven frescoes will be on display, although a total of 16 once decorated the walls of the unisex dressing room.

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