Visitors walk in Pompeii, the famous city next to Naples which was destroyed in AD 79 by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Rare artefacts from Pompeii will go on show at British Museum in 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito)
Visitors walk in Pompeii, the famous city next to Naples which was destroyed in AD 79 by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Rare artefacts from Pompeii will go on show at British Museum in 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito)

Over 250 rare and unseen artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum will go on show during a major exhibition at the British Museum next spring.

Pompeii and Herculaneum, two Roman cities on the coast of the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, were buried under volcanic ash, within only 24 hours, after an enormous eruption by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The catastrophe left the cities' settlements, people, animals and the objects frozen in the lava and ash and, literally, in time. The buried cities were excavated 1700 years later and now provide great insight into Roman life in the first century.

Most of the objects to be displayed at the exhibition, named Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, have never been seen outside Italy, according to the British Museum.

"This will be a major exhibition for the British Museum in 2013, made possible through collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii which has meant extremely generous loans of precious objects from their collections, some that have never travelled before," Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, said in a statement.

Some of these rare objects are artefacts discovered from recent excavations at Herculaneum, including marble reliefs, ivory panels, jewelleries, well-preserved wooden furniture and more. Curators added that one of the most astonishing and moving pieces was a baby's crib, which still rocked on its curved runners.

The exhibition will focus on the Roman home of the period and the people who lived in those ill-fated cities. It will explore the lives of businessmen and women in Roman society through a wall painting from Pompeii featuring a baker and his wife. The couple in the painting are seen holding writing materials, suggesting they were both literate and, scholars say the framing and pose of the people in the painting suggests a strong sense of equality between the couple, both in business and life.

In addition to these artefacts, body casts of human beings and animals buried by volcanic mud, freezing them forever in their final moments, are likely to be a huge attraction at the exhibition.

"A family of two adults and their two children are huddled together, just as in their last moments under the stairs of their villa. The most famous of the casts on display is of a dog, fixed forever at the moment of its death as the volcano submerged the cities," museum officials stated.

Sponsored by Goldman Sachs, the exhibition will be held from 28 March until 29 September 2013; tickets for the event are already available online for sale.