A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
First published in 1940, Roman Portraits (New York: Phaidon Press, 2004; $19.95) is a gorgeous and surprisingly moving collection of 136 full-page photographs of the faces of Roman statuary mostly dating from the end of the Republican era and the beginning of the Imperial (first to second century A.D.). The black-and-white images, by photographer Ilse Schneider-Lengyel, capture the realistic statues' deep humanity, each wrinkled brow, coiffed curl, downcast eye, or balding pate like that of someone you know.
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Despite the format, Anton Radevsky's Architecture Pop-Up Book (New York: Universe Publishing, 2004; $39.95) is not for kids. Roughly the first half of the book features architectural marvels from the ancient world, some nine to ten per page, packed with history, reconstructions, and interactive elements. Open one face of Khufu's pyramid to see the system of tunnels leading to his burial chamber within, or peer through the Doric columns of the Parthenon. Informative text panels accompany every edifice.
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The Discovery Channel revisits the most famous victim of Vesuvius with Pompeii: The Last Day (January 30, 9 p.m.), a two-hour dramatization by the BBC. While no new ground is broken, memorable characters emerge based on physical remains, including a greedy merchant who dies with a stolen bag of gold in his hand and a heavily pregnant woman whose family refuses to leave her behind.
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