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Transcript of Pompeii-Herculneum
• stages of occupation
• brief historical overview up to and including the eruption of AD 79
• early discoveries and brief history of the excavations
• representations of Pompeii and Herculaneum over time
1 Geographical context
• the physical environment: the geographical setting, natural features and resources of Pompeii and Herculaneum
• plans and streetscapes of Pompeii and Herculaneum
2 The nature of sources and evidence
• the range of available sources, both written and archaeological, including ancient writers, official inscriptions, graffiti, wall paintings, statues, mosaics, human and animal remains
• the limitations, reliability and evaluation of sources
• the evidence provided by the sources from Pompeii and Herculaneum for:
– the eruption
– the economy: trade, commerce, industries, occupations
– social structure; men, women, freedmen, slaves
– local political life
– everyday life: leisure activities, food and dining, clothing, health, baths, water
supply and sanitation
– public buildings – basilicas, temples, fora, theatres, palaestra, amphitheatres
– private buildings – villas, houses, shops
– influence of Greek and Egyptian cultures: art, architecture, religion
– religion: temples, household gods, foreign cults, tombs.
3 Investigating, reconstructing and preserving the past
• changing methods and contributions of nineteenth and twentieth century archaeologists to our understanding of Pompeii and Herculaneum
• changing interpretations: impact of new research and technologies
• issues of conservation and reconstruction: Italian and international contributions and
responsibilities; impact of tourism
• ethical issues: study and display of human remains
-Pompeii and Herculaneum are located in Campania and both cities were built over old lava flows.
-Pompeii is located south east of Naples on the Bay of Naples. It is at the mouth of the Sarno River.
-The location of both towns made them attractive for trade, defence and leisure and for these reasons, Pompeii and Herculaneum experienced great economic wealth.
-Bay of Naples was a busy harbor and trade was important
-To the east of Pompeii are the Apennine Mountains and north, Mt. Vesuvius
-The city of Pompeii is oval shaped and covers about 66 hectares
-The volcano dominated the landscape
-Both towns had walls, though Herculaneum’s was modest
-Pompeii was accessed to 7 gates (names after where they led) and had 2 main roads
-Clusters of shops around the crossroads (near fountains)
Pliny the Elder, described the area as favoured by nature:
“…A fertile region… blessed with pleasant scenery… climate so mild, plains so fertile… has a wealth of different kinds of forest, breezes from many mountains, an abundance of corn, vines and olives… rich sources of river and springs… as if to assist mankind.”
Pliny the Younger:
Born in AD 61 and adopted by his uncle at the death of his father.
A Latin orator and friend of Tacitus.
An eyewitness to the effects of the eruption of .
Personally experienced the effects of the eruption at Misenum.
However, despite the letters’ invaluable nature as historical and scientific documents, and their contribution to our understanding of the eruption, the letters lack important information and raise questions about their reliability.
Pliny records nothing of the overwhelming of Pompeii and Herculaneum, does not record the year as 79 AD and surprisingly never mentions the tremendous detonation that must have preceded the eruption.
The description of his uncle’s experiences, behaviour and death, were second-hand. He had to rely on reports of those who survived, all of whom would have been seriously traumatised.
The events of August 79 AD were not documented until AD 103-7, and in the intervening years, Pliny may have forgotten much of what he heard and experienced, especially the sequence.
The stated purpose of the Letter to Tacitus indicate that they were more concerned with celebrating Pliny’s bravery and contributing to his reputation as a writer.
Plans and Street scapes of Pompeii and Herculaneum
-Area of Pompeii was small by Roman standards, only covering 66 hectares. Were four main areas in the city: the Forum, the insulae fronting the Via Stabiana, Region VI and the eastern area.
-Heavy Greek influences on the layout of the streets; were narrow, straight streets which divided the city into blocks (insulae).
-Evidence of Roman paving techniques, raised footpaths and stepping stones for pedestrians. Roman law said streets had to be 5m wide; Pompeii generally conformed, but streets in Herculaneum were anywhere from 2.5m-7m wide.
-Pompeii had heavy traffic, as shown by the deep grooves found in its streets. Herculaneum had less traffic, with some streets being pedestrian-only. An example of this is the main street, which served as the Forum.
-Pompeii was surrounded by defensive walls, with two main gates: Herculaneum and Marine gates. Via was the name for the highway which led from the Pompeian gate.
-The Via dell’Abondanza was the main street, known as the ‘street of abundance’.
-Decumani: were streets which ran from east to west; cardines: streets which ran north to south. These streets bisected each other at right angles.
-The Forum was the heart of the city in both Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Natural Features and Resources
-The climate was quite hot (hot dry summers, mild wet winter) as the cities were near the Mediterranean Sea.
-Soil was extremely fertile because of location near volcano and because of this 3 to 4 crops were grown/yr and the bay was a breeding ground for fish as the water was warm Wheat, grapes, olives, fish sauce (garum), sheep products (wool), flour (for food, cosmetics, soap and fuel)
-Olives were a staple part of the roman economy
-Wealthy usually owned a Villa Rostica, which were farms/land outside the town. Slaved worked these towns.
-Pumice stone from the volcano was used for grinding grain and pressing olives.
-Perfume – many grew herbs in the peristyle to produce light fragrances.
-On both sides of the Pompeian forum were markets which were the property of the city, administered by two aediles who made sure that the market market ran smoothly , goods were measured by price acuratly, quality was maintained, city regulations were upheld
-The macellum , on the north-eastern side of the forum, was a busy market specializing in the sale of fish and meat possibly fish and vegetables
-Visiting traders could find a bed for the night in one of the many hotels to the port or the city
-A hotel near the forum could sleep fifty people, four to a room, while two just inside Herculaneum and Stabian gates had dinning rooms, bedrooms, stables, a water trough and garage for wagons. It appears the owners also provided their guests with entertainment with upstairs room accessed by a side door for discreet entry of local women
-Vital aspect of society
-Situated near the bay of Naples
-Even within the society, some women independently worked in their homes making and mending clothes to earn a little money
-Evidence from graffiti suggests that Pompeii had a large population of foreigners involved in trade
-Freedwomen frequently sold luxury items or exotic merchandise, such as dyes, perfumes, clothes and food
The Wine & Oil Industries
-Wine and olives were a principle source of income for people in the Vesuvian region. Vine yards and olive groves could only be owned by wealthy landowners because of the cost of the long wait between planting and the first harvest and the cost of wine and olive presses
-Generally wine does not appear to have been stored in large quantities in taverns and bars but brought from the farms and villas. These villas had rooms for pressing grapes, for fermentation and storage
-Most of the oil pressing was done on the estates even though oil presses were found in Pompeian houses and the forum granary. It is believed that there may have been an olive market near or in the forum. Granary oil was used for cooking, perfumes and body oiling in baths
The Manufacture of Garum
-Pompeii was known for its garum, fish sauce which was one of the main condiments used for flavoring Roman cuisine
-Prominent manufacturers may have obtained their fish more directly
-Garum was a potent mix, made from ‘the guts of fish and other parts that otherwise would be considered refuse
-600 excavated of privately owned shops, workshops, bars, taverns and inns
-Markets around the forum
-Epigraphic evidence of guilds of tradesmen and retailers
-Twenty or so maritime houses containing objects characterised by port area and building lined with jars
-The basilica, fronting into the forum was only a law court but an exchange where businessmen or speculators met clients and signed contracts
Public notes and graffiti
Public notices were written in red or black on whitewash walls with a brush. Most were painted by professionals called ‘scriptores’ and were electoral manifestos or slogans known as ‘programmata’ that urged citizens to vote for a particular candidate.
As important to the people of Pompeii were the programs that announced up-coming events in the ampitheatre. Whitewashed walls were also used for sale and rental notices.
The inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum shared their amorous feelings, spread gossip, showed their admiration, abused an opponent, recorded their debts and accounts, praised their lessons and boasted about sexual prowess in the thousands if graffiti scratched into the walls of private homes and public buildings. This was so widespread that the comment, ‘I wonder, Wall, you do not go smash Who have to bear the weight of all this trash’, circulated in Pompeii
Decorative arts and objects of everyday life
Frescoes (paintings on wet plaster), categorised into four Pompeian styles, were derived from the great Hellenistic schools of the East (architectural elements and mythological scenes). Meglography was a term used for paintings which featured larger than life figures extending over all walls, such as the series of paintings in the famous Villa of Mysteries. These provide evidence for lost Greek and Hellenistic paintings, the process of fresco painting and changes in Pompeian society. Unfortunately many were not recorded before they were removed, destroyed or faded
Mosaics are pictures and designs done in thousands of ‘tesserae’ (tiny chips of coloured glass, stone, pottery) and found on floors, walls, grottoes and fountains.
Sculptures in bronze and marble and a magnificent array of silver and fine ceramic ware reveal the wealth and taste of many Pompeians.
So-called ‘popular art was not affected by Greek traditions and was generally found on trade signs and exterior walls. It reflected aspects of real and is an invaluable source of evidence of everyday life.
‘Ordinary’ objects (pots on a stove, carbonized food, scorched cloth, matting, ropes, fishermen’s nets, cradles, braziers, lamps, scales, pottery containers, dice, kitchen utensils, presses and millstones) are invaluable to historians.
Human and animal remains
Human skeletal remains from the beach at Herculaneum studied by classical archaeologist and anthropologist, Dr Sara Bisel.
Disarticulated bones from Pompeii studied by Dr Estelle Lazer, forensic archaeologist.
Plaster and resin casts from Pompeii.
Remains of horses and mules, dogs, and a goat in a cellar.
Root cavities of large ornamental trees, vines and fruit trees, carbonised plant remains and pollen.
The work by these scholars has provided evidence for:
Sex, age, appearance and general height of the population
General health, specific medical problems, instances of surgery, and number of pregnancies a woman had.
Probable occupations and social status
Mental state at the time of death and causes of death
The early flight of inhabitants from Pompeii (horses, asses, etc. used to escape).
The use of animals for turning millstones
Types of vegetation, and plant species in the area
Types of foods and presence of gardens, vineyards and orchards within Pompeii.
Limitations, Reliability and Evaluation of Archeological Sources
-Interpretation of evidence by archaeologists/historians is sometimes contradictory needs to be carefully evaluated.
-Archaeologists still differ over Pompeii’s prosperity at time of eruption; debate as to whether Pompeii was thriving town or was experiencing economic/social decline.
-Originally, bones of victims were regarded as unimportant. More recently, study of bones has revealed great deal about victims from both towns. Originally concluded those who died were old, young and sick; recently known victims were more representative of the whole society, not just those who could not help themselves.
-When owner of building being excavated was unknown, excavators invented a name based on what was found at the site (e.g. Villa of Papyri). These names may colour the interpretation of some sites.
-Pompeii and Herculaneum have not been fully excavated; leaves gaps in archaeological evidence for two towns.
-Region of Campania was an unstable volcanic region prone to earth tremors and other seismic activity; the people of the region had no understanding of nature or the impending danger of Vesuvius, nor of the warning signs.
-No certainty as to precise date of eruption; August 24 is the accepted date, although November 3 or 23 is also possible. Archaeological evidence is ambiguous, and can only suggest summer or late autumn.
-Several phases to the eruption (Pompeii):
Plinian phase: initial explosion, great thrust of cloud of ash/pumice/gases 20km into the air.
-Pumice fallout over Pompeii. At first were only pebbles 1cm in diameter, but grew to rocks 20cm in diameter.
-Some hours later, there were ground surges, which raced to Pompeii at 100km/h.
Pyroclastic flow: was a hot, dry avalanche of pumice, ash and gases. Buried Pompeii to a depth of about 4m.
-Herculaneum was destroyed by a series of pyroclastic flows. The first surge which hit Herculaneum travelled at between 100-300km/h, and had a temperature of 400C. This surge killed anyone left in Herculaneum.
Causes of death:
-Pompeii: asphyxiation due to ash/gases, and pyroclastic flows.
-Herculaneum: lava flows/pyroclastic flows. Instantly killed people as it hit them.
Martial quotes “lies buried by flames and mournful ash”.
Range of available sources
The material that provides evidence for life in Pompeii and Herculaneum fits into two broad categories: archaeological and written. What are called epigraphic sources (inscriptions) can fit into both categories.
Pliny the Younger wrote to Tacitus about his account of the eruptions of Vesuvius and the reactions and fates of various individuals and groups.
These are sources of evidence for the structure of Pompeian government, prominent families, financial contributions to the construction of public buildings, as well as evidence of economic, political and social transformations in society.
Archaeological sources present a challenging means of assessing women because they rely so heavily on interpretation. There are only a few sure cases where an artifact or a body undoubtedly belongs to a woman.
It is reasonable to assume that women frequented bath houses, private dwellings, shops, factories, streets, the Forum, theatres and the amphitheatre, but it is not always possible to find tangible evidence of their presence. The historian must therefore extrapolate from generally accepted knowledge of imperial Roman society to make assumptions about the lives of women in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Many roman women were educated and wrote poetry; but the writings of only one have survived: six poems by Sulpicia (lived during the late first century BC)
Literary sources written by men pay little attention to women in general, especially those of the lower classes→ the little we do know of the women who lived, worked and died in Pompeii and Herculaneum comes from their ‘voices’ in graffiti and inscriptions
Famous Pompeian wall painting, ‘The Baker Terentius Neo and His Wife’ has been interpreted as a representation of the social aspirations of the couple: the man is holding a scroll and the woman a stylus and dispatch; status symbols of education and learning, in contrast to their middle class background
Girls from privileged backgrounds were taught to read and write, either at school or by slave tutors in their own home. Pliny the Younger mentions that his third wife, the young Calpurnia, enjoyed reading and discussing his writings. Juvenal writes scathingly of women who spend their time reading Latin and Greek, or singing and playing the lyre instead of doing embroidery. Others believed that educated women made better wives and mothers.
Sabina Poppaea, who became the wife of Nero in 62AD, came from a wealthy Pompeian family who owned two luxurious houses, the House of the Golden Cupids and the famous House of the Meander. After the earthquake in 62AD, Nero recalled the ban on games, which he issued to punish the Pompeians for the riot in the amphitheatre. The Pompeians expressed their gratitude by writing on the walls, ‘Three cheers for imperial decrees; three cheers for the decisions of the emporer and empress. Long live Empress Pomppaea.’
Pliny the Younger writes of his friend, Ummidia Quadratilla, a lively old lady who had so much money that she could afford to keep her own private company of entertainers.
Another wealthy Pompeian woman was Julia Felix, an independent woman who had inherited a large fortune. She owned an enormous, magnificently decorated house which occupied a whole block just near the Via dell’Abbondanza.
We know from the information on Eumachia that priestesses were held in high regard in Roman society.
In the Street of the Tombs in Pompeii stands the funerary chamber of another priestess who was honoured in death by decree of the town council. The inscription reads: ‘To Mamia, daughter of Publius, public priestess, a place for burial was given by decree of the town councillers.’
Mamia also built a small temple for herself on her own land using her own money. However, it is unclear to which cult Mamia belonged.
- Eumachia, prominent woman of Pompeii
Eumachia was a public priestess, and although her ancestry was humble, the fortune she inherited from her father, a brick manufacturer, enabled Eumachia to marry into one of Pompeii’s older families. Written and archaeological sources tell us something about her position in society.
Roman women often went into partnership with their husbands and were allowed to earn profit from the business. It was not unusual for a wife to take over the management of a business when her husband died.
Although most of the weaving in what could be called factories was done by men, some women worked independently in their homes making and mending clothes. They earned little money and their position in society was low.
Female slaves performed a wide range of duties, depending on the needs of their owners. Some worked as household slaves, cooking and cleaning, or as nannies and wet nurses (nutrices). Some managed businesses or even worked as laborers for house or ship construction. Others were personal attendants for wealthy, upper-class women.
We know from the names of women written in graffiti around the town that Pompeii had a large population of foreigners involved in trade. Freedwomen, because they often came from the east, frequently sold luxury items or exotic merchandise, such as dyes and perfumes, as well as clothes and food.
The upper class
The upper class consisted of the particians and the equites who were easily identified by their symbols of rank: both wore a purble-bordered toga and the equites wore a gold ring. Although the Romans were conscious of rank, admission to the upper class was not based entirely on birth. A person achieved this status by holding public office, and this was subject to wealth qualifications. Even members of the provinces could become citizens and eventually senators during the Julio-Claudian period.
Senators needed property valuing one million sesterces and most gained their wealth from large estates. They served the emperor and the position was hereditary. Senators wore a toga with a wide purple stripe, although, as this was made of wool and therefore uncomfortable, it was generally reserved for ceremonial occasions.
Equestrians needed property to the value of four hundred thousand sesterces to qualify for their position. They served the emperor in practical positions, such as fire service, grain supply, and military. They often had gained their wealth from banking or trade and the position was not hereditary. They wore a toga with a narrow purple stripe.
The Middle Class
These were free or freed citizens who made a moderate living through business such as fulling, bread-making and wine production. They provided essential goods and services to the communities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Many members of this class were slaves who had been granted freedom by their masters. Sometimes owners would set up skilled slaves in businesses. When they had earned their freedom, they continued in the business as junior partners. Although a significant proportion of the profits went to the owner, they could still make enough money to purchase their own property and make investments, including the purchase of slaves. Some became wealthy enough to move to the upper class.
Clothes Manufacture & Treatment
-Wool was the basis of one of the most important industries in Pompeii, the washing and dyeing of wool and the manufacture of cloth. Associated with this was laudering, bleaching and recolouring of clothes. Both these activities were carried out in workshops at the fullonicae or laundries
-The raw wool was first sent to an officina lanifiricarae where it was degreased by boiling in leaden boilers. It was taken to the spinners and weavers, in private homes or officinae textoriae
-The cloth was next sent to the officinae tincloriae for dyeing, often in bright colours such as purple or saffron
-The finished product was distributed to cloth merchants
-Human urine was used for its ammonia content. Male passer bys were urged to supply their urine by filling the jugs hanging outside
-Thirty or so bakeries have been identified in Pompeii
-Bread was basic foodstuff. Because of the poor quality of the flour, the bread was very hard and due to the lack of yeast, deteriorated quickly
-Bakeries did not own their own refining of the grain in lava stone mills, usually three or four set in a paved courtyard with a table for kneading the dough and a brick oven.
-Ovens were heated by burning vine sticks and once hot enough were cleaned out for baking the small round loaves of bread. These were dispatched to various small shops and stalls in surrounding streets. A few bakeries had an area for selling their own break, but most did not
Artists, metal-workers, carpenters, silversmiths, goldsmiths, wheelwrights, tanners, tinkers, ironmongers, marble-workers, stone masons, gem cutters, glass makers, bakers, farmers, inn keepers, tavern owners, shop owners, prostitutes, slaves, fullers, merchants, politicians, priest, priestesses