Sunday, February 14, 2016

Retired in Ann Arbor: The Villa of Mysteries at Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Time to revisit our most popular blog post!

A short distance outside the walls of the ancient city of Pompeii, sat a beautiful villa, surrounded by fertile fields-- and with beautiful vistas of the countryside, mountains and the Bay of Naples.

The best views were from a large room, used for entertaining and dining, that was decorated with large murals dedicated to the Greek god Dionysus.  The Romans knew this god as Bacchus, the god of agriculture, wine and bacchanalia (according to Wiki, these were wild and mystic festivals celebrating the wine god--).

Today, the Villa of Mysteries still sits outside Pompeii, where it sat undiscovered between AD 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted-- and 1909 when it was discovered by the then owner of the land.

In 1924, before the villa was fully uncovered, University of Michigan Professor of Latin Francis W. Kelsey commissioned a large-scale color replica of this room for the University.  He contracted a famous Italian artist to paint the replica.  And thanks to Professor Kelsey, we are able to walk into this room today, and enjoy the murals that the Roman owner saw in the year AD 79.

The meaning of the murals are a mystery, as these sacred rites were only known by the initiates, and the Roman owner of this villa is also a mystery.

Whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not, it is worth spending a few minutes at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology  (free, but donations welcome) to ponder the mystery of love in this amazing room.

(And who can resist chubby little cupids?)

Open weekends 1-4PM
and Tuesday through Friday 9-4PM.
Closed Monday.

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