31 October 2019Review of 'Last Supper in Pompeii' 28th October 2019
06 October 2019Review of visit to Watts Gallery on 1st October 2019
27 September 2019In Memory of Chris Gulliver, our Vice Chairman
27 September 2019Review of 'Les Parisiennes' lecture on 23rd September 2019
27 September 2019AGM - new committee members elected
02 August 2019Review of 'Art of Grayson Perry' lecture on 25th July 2019
24 July 2019Church Recording of St James’ Finchampstead
05 July 2019Review of Mexican Study Day July 2019
01 July 2019Review of 'The History of Wallpaper' lecture on 27th June 2019
01 July 2019Review of visit to Greenwich June 2019
01 June 2019Review of 'Photography as Fine Art' lecture on 23rd May 2019
23 May 2019Review of Hidden Reading walk May 2019
30 April 2019Review of 'Florentine Disegno versus Venetian Colorito' lecture on 25th April 2019
04 April 2019Review of 'Captain Cook – Art and Exploration Extraordinaire' lecture on 28th March 2019
22 March 2019Review of 'The Image of the Annunciation' Study Day 13th March 2019
07 March 2019Review of 'Passion and Rivalry – Mantegna and Bellini' lecture on 28th February 2019
31 January 2019Review of 'Still Searching for the Queen of Sheba' lecture on January 24th 2019
31 January 2019Lectures to take place on Monday evenings from Sept. 2019
13 October 2018Winning entry of the Service the Others category - Love Wokingham Photographic Competition
21 September 2018AGM - new committee members elected
31 May 2018May 2018 Bulletin - Newbold Church
30 April 2018April 2018 Bulletin
20 October 2016Clifton Ingram Partnership Press Release October 2016
02 June 2015Venue Change for 2015-2016 Lecture Programme.
05 May 2015Michael Shirley elected to NADFAS Trustee Board
29 July 2014Introductory Lecture

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Review of 'Last Supper in Pompeii' 28th October 2019
Thursday 31 October 2019

Last Supper in Pompeii

Dr Paul Roberts whisked the audience straight back to Pompeii in AD 79 at this month’s lecture for the Arts Society, Wokingham. AD 79 was when Vesuvius erupted, a tragedy for the Romans but a gift for us. The rain of fine stones after the eruption covered and preserved everything – pottery, frescoes, mosaics and food – giving us a picture of how these people lived and what mattered to them. Paul is fascinated by ordinary people and he showed us how their lives depended totally on the gods whose images were everywhere, and the importance of food and drink. This was a picture of the ‘Last Supper’ for the Romans who did not know what was about to happen to their world.

Pompeii was a busy, noisy, smelly city. Goods would be transported there by boat or carried by slaves. Bars lined the streets where ‘fast food’ was served, a vast amount of wine was produced in vineyards nearby and banqueting was how richer folk showed off their importance. Romans were wine snobs and the biggest accolade was being talked about for the opulence of their homes and their entertaining.  Dining was more than nutrition. Guests would recline on couches beside tables laid with silver, able to admire exquisite, detailed mosaics, paintings and prized pieces of art. The quantity of food was huge with starters of eggs, cheese, lighter meats such as poultry and dormice (specially fattened, edible ones, bigger than the field dormice we know) and vegetables, similar to those we eat today. The main courses would consist of pigs, sheep and goats. They even ate something resembling haggis, a special fish sauce being used in almost all cooking. Puddings were mainly fruit and carbonised figs, pomegranates and walnuts have been found.

The Romans were unaware of the finer side of hygiene, and food preparation took place in a kitchen which also housed the latrine. Why not? Food waste could be disposed of alongside human waste. Convenient – and as the master or mistress of the house would never go near the kitchen, they saw nothing of this.

The Romans lived closer to death then we do and saw no reason why the pleasures of life should not continue.  Their love affair with food continued after death. They depicted the after-life as a feast. Funeral stones often showed reclining guests enjoying a banquet and tombs contained utensils and pots for eating and drinking. Pottery food – grapes, figs, ricotta cheese, almonds – have been found at Pompeii.

Paul finished his lecture by bringing us back to Britannia. Within a decade of the arrival of the Romans, we had adopted their ways, their foods, their beer industry and their gods. The Roman south of Italy had spread as far as Hadrian’s Wall.

Paul Roberts is the Sackler Keeper of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford University, where he has curated an exhibition, Last Supper in Pompeii, on which this lecture was based. It is on until 12 January, 2020. After experiencing the enthusiasm and knowledge of Paul, I think many of us will be paying it a visit!

Our next lecture, Christmas Backstage at the Opera, will be held on November 25th at The Newbold Church, St Marks Road, Binfield, RG42 4AN, commencing at 7.45pm. Do come and join us. Visitor Fee: £8. To find out more about the Arts Society, check out our website,