Monday, March 14, 2011

Unearthing a Natural Disaster

Disclaimer: This post is tied to the meetings industry with a very thin thread.

It was probably poor timing. But yesterday, with heartbreaking images of disaster-torn Japan still fresh in our minds, my family and I stepped back in time to experience another natural disaster: Mount Vesuvius' eruption some 2,000 years ago, at the Pompeii exhibit at Discovery Times Square museum in New York City.

I was fortunate to visit the Pompeii ruins several years ago with my husband, during his company's incentive trip to Italy. Being in the actual setting is mind-blowing. But to see such a large collection of artifacts so miraculously preserved — including an entire room of body casts of people consumed by heat and ash — from a faraway land and time in your own backyard, well, it packs its own kind of punch.

The exhibit gives visitors a glimpse of a far more advanced society than we might imagine — from medical instruments to indoor plumbing to food prep. Case in point: Pompeii was likely the first fast-food — and drive-thru — destination. People pulled up to food stalls in their chariots, where they could have a dish prepared on the spot for them in something of a clay "hibachi." (Hint, there's the F&B link to our industry.)

Less surprising, considering it's the world's oldest profession, are the brothel rooms uncovered by excavations in Pompeii. One such room is cleverly tucked away at the exhibit.

And I guess that qualifies as my hospitality connection.

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