To the ancient Romans, the Mediterranean Sea was known as Mare Nostrum, a befitting expression of their naval dominance.
With great pride, Contemporanea Progetti and its partner Expona was on hand to assist in the opening of this special exhibition in Hong Kong in 2016.
Covered by orchards and gardens, Mount Vesuvius concealed its status as an active volcano until 79 CE. At that cataclysmic moment in history, the great Roman historian, Pliny the Elder was in command of a Roman fleet stationed across the Bay of Naples. Pliny launched ships and sailed toward Pompeii, planning to attempt a rescue, but he died in his efforts. This is the portal through which the exhibition was entered – Pompeii in 79 CE – but it was the parallel story of Roman naval prowess, innovation and ingenuity that was revealed as the exhibition unfolded.
Knowledge about ancient navigation, once based only on literary sources, has significantly increased due to advancements in marine archaeology and the discovery of underwater sites and shipwrecks, rich in artefacts and in some cases, still containing part of the cargo once carried. Such discoveries have enabled this insightful reconstruction of the history of the Roman Navy, the nature of Mediterranean trade and commerce in ancient times and modern marine archaeology today.