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Pompeii. Sources: The Destruction of Pompeii & Herculaneum by C.A.R Hills Antiquity 1 by Unlocking the Past by. What has the discovery of Pompeii & Herculaneum told us about ancient life ?. Historical evidence. They bare whole towns with 2 storeyed buildings in tact.

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The Destruction of Pompeii & Herculaneum by C.A.R Hills

Antiquity 1 by

Unlocking the Past by

Historical evidence
Historical evidence about ancient life

  • They bare whole towns with 2 storeyed buildings in tact.

  • Pots and jugs still in the kitchen

  • Meals still waiting on tables.

  • Historical records tend to only recount the activities of the rich BUT Pompeii gives us evidence of how the ‘ordinary’ people lived.

  • Very little of private houses left in Rome but here in P and H many private houses and streets remain.

The city
The city about ancient life

  • The following buildings/amenities have been excavatedforumtemplestheatresamphitheatrespublic bathspalaestrashopsprivate dwellings

  • Walled city with 8 gates

  • Streets paved and guttered with a good water supply

The forum
The Forum about ancient life

The forum pavement
The Forum pavement about ancient life

Basilica a public building
Basilica – a public building about ancient life

The forum baths
The Forum baths about ancient life

Cork model of the forum
Cork model of the Forum about ancient life

Gladiator barracks
Gladiator barracks about ancient life

Temple of apollo podium
Temple of Apollo - podium about ancient life

Homes domus
Homes [ about ancient lifedomus]

  • Usually the wealthy

  • Ornately decorated usually

  • Might stay in the one family for generations

  • Typically faced inwards

  • Very plain looking from the outside

  • Designed for security, privacy and peace & quiet

  • Few windows to the streets

  • Main hall [atrium] was fed light by opening in roof

  • Often 2 storeys

  • Greek influence shown by peristyles, large open colonnaded courtyards at the back of the house

  • These were often embellished with statues, fountains & gardens

Homes cont
Homes about ancient life[cont…..]

  • Homes for the poor might have been over a shop. Ostia has good examples of this type of housing At the time of the eruption many larger houses had been divided into a number of smaller flats

  • People tended to live in insulae [large blocks]

  • Some houses split into flats for several families especially during the last ears before 79AD

  • No residential area

  • 800 house have been excavated at Pompeii

  • The ‘best’ 50-room mansions of 2000 square metres down to homes of only a few rooms

Insula of julia felix
Insula of Julia Felix about ancient life

Homes features of a wealthy home
Homes about ancient life – features of a wealthy home

  • The houses of Pompeii were exquisitely designed. The size and décor of your house usually depended on how rich you were.

  • The houses in Pompeii never had doorsteps but they always had gardens. The gardens were usually full of brightly coloured flowers and beautiful green trees.

  • As soon as you walk in the door of a Pompeian house you are standing in the fauces. This is also known as the entrance hall. In older houses the fauces was usually divided into two. It was also sometimes used as a cloakroom the door posts in the fauces was beautifully decorated and the floor in a wealthy house would be covered with a mosaic

Heating hypocaust
Heating hypocaust about ancient life

Fauces house of faun
Fauces - about ancient lifeHouseofFaun

Homes cont features of a wealthy home
Homes about ancient life[cont…..] –features of a wealthy home

  • If you walk through the fauces you arrive at the main room [atrium], this was where guests were received. The atrium was covered by a roof which sloped downwards to allow rainwater to enter the impluvium. Every house had an impluvium; this was a pool for rainwater that then carried the water down into a system for general use. In the corner of the atrium there was a lararium [shrine for the household gods]. The families would worship their household gods every morning and every evening.

  • After the atrium, there was the tablinum. This was a room were all the business between the master of the house and his clients took place. The tablinum was divided from the atrium by curtains or a wooden screen. It opened out into the garden

Compluvium house of the tragic poet
Compluvium about ancient lifeHouse of the Tragic Poet

Homes cont features of a wealthy home1
Homes about ancient life[cont…..] –features of a wealthy home

  • Next to the tablinum was the triclinum, which was also known as the winter dining room. This room had three large couches with cushions and also with niches in the walls for supporting extra wooden couches. Each couch was allocated to certain people e.g. The first couch was occupied by the master of the house and the chief guest was seated on the middle couch.  

  • At the back of the house was the summer dining room also known as the triclinium this room opened out into the garden. The couches in this room were in the shape of a three-sided square. Opening out into the garden was broad windows, and in the garden there were stone couches that would not rot in the rain.

Tablinum house of faun
Tablinum – House of Faun about ancient life

Triclinum tragic poet
Triclinum – Tragic Poet about ancient life

Homes cont features of a wealthy home2
Homes about ancient life[cont…..] –features of a wealthy home

  • In a Pompeian house there was no set place for a kitchen but it was usually behind the atrium, the toilet was often next door or even inside the kitchen. The contents of the toilet drained off into a pit. Only public toilets had a sewage system.

  • Then there was the peristylium, which was the garden. The surrounding walls of a Pompeian garden were painted with outdoor scenes. The most popular style garden was with a colonnade, which offered the people of the house some shade during summer.

  • Pompeian houses were always painted white to keep them cool. Around a Pompeian there was always beautiful painting representing things like gods or there were usually a lot of paintings showing sexual scenes.

  • Pompeian houses were beautifully built and decorated. The richer you were the more mosaics and paintings you had in your house.

1 st peristyle house of faun
1 about ancient lifest peristyle – House of Faun

2 nd peristyle house of faun
2 about ancient lifend peristyle – House of Faun

Religion temples
Religion- about ancient lifetemples

  • 10 excavated in Pompeii

  • Two functions – to house the gods and be a place for rituals to be carried out by the priests

  • Not places of regular worship by the public [except temple of Isis]

  • Temple of Apollo rebuilt and remodelled several times, and enlarged after 62AD

  • Temple of Venus which had been destroyed in 62 had only just begun to be rebuilt in 79

  • When Pompeii became a Roman colony in 80BC the temple of Jupiter was converted to the temple of the Jupiter, Juno and Minerva – it had not been repaired after 62

  • 2 temples associated with imperial [Roman] rule were temples of Vespasian, and Fortuna Augusta

Temple of jupiter
Temple of Jupiter about ancient life

Religion about ancient life

  • At least 2 eastern religions practiced in Pompeii – an ivory figurine of a Hindu fertility goddess, Lakshmi and a bronze bust of the near Eastern fertility goddess, Sabzias found

  • Shrines & altars also found on the streets, many at crossroads

  • 1 shrine near a fountain on the Via dell’Abondanza had the charred remains of a sacrifice made at the time of the eruption

  • Images of gods were painted on the alls of shops

  • In the temples rituals etc were carried by priests and priestesses

  • Images of Venus found throughout Pompeii – the goddess of love and success

  • One aspiring politician wrote in graffiti, “Vote for me and the Venus of Pompeii will bring success to everything you undertake”

Temple of apollo with altar
Temple of Apollo with altar about ancient life

Religion temple of isis
Religion- about ancient lifeTemple of Isis

  • Dedicated to the Egyptian god, Isis

  • Worshippers of Isis met in then temple twice a day

  • 1st in the morning celebrating the rising of the sun, the rebirth of Osiris

  • 2nd in the early afternoon ceremony of water, where Nile water was blessed

  • Badly damaged in 62 but fully rebuilt by freedman in the name of his son, N Popidius Celsinus

  • Ceremonial objects found with skeletons suggesting the priests had fled Vesuvius with statues, a silver urn and other vessels

Religion household
Religion- about ancient lifehousehold

  • Household religion was central to roman citizens at the time.

  • Houses in Pompeii had small shrines [lararium]

  • Each day offerings were made to the household gods

  • After the earthquake of 62 most lararia were quickly restored

  • In 79AD people fled with their lares as many lararia found without their lares as well as many being found in the streets near skeletons

  • Vesta the goddess of the hearth [fireplace]

  • Panates, guardian spirits of the pantry!!

Paintings about ancient life

  • Despite kitchens and bedrooms often being small even in the better houses, generally they were much more beautiful than modern houses.

  • Floor mosaics, wall paintings & decoration exist in abundance in Pompeii & Herculaneum.

  • Art historians are able to identify 4 styles of painting

  • Most famous paintings at Pompeii are those of the Villa of Mysteries showing initiation ceremonies into the worship of the Greek god, Dionysius.

  • These are great works of art BUT also very important historical documents.

Paintings cont
Paintings about ancient life cont….

  • 4 main points about Roman wall painting

  • Ancient houses were painted much more than today. Today we tend to think of individually commissioned murals as reserved for only the very rich yet in Pompeii and Herculaneum it was a daily occurrence.

  • Quality varies from room to room. The more important, and therefore more highly visible and visited rooms, received better paintings.

  • Paintings must be considered in the context of the architecture settings in which they occur. What was the function of the room? Was it well lit? How does it work with pavements? With furniture?

  • Wall paintings are a measure of the artistic taste and social aspirations of the owner of the house.

Streets Piccola

  • Had raised pavements on either side

  • Stepping stones placed at intervals so people could sidestep water and rubbish

  • Streets were cobbled

  • Evidence of many ruts in the streets from traffic

  • Streets very narrow by modern standards

  • Rarely more than 4 metres wide in Pompeii while those of Herculaneum were even narrow hardly wide enough for a chariot

  • Most intersections had a public fountain with sculptured headstones

Shops hotels etc
Shops & Hotels etc NB how narrow they are!!

  • Much evidence of shops, workshops, hotels, restaurants & places of entertainment

  • One hotel in Pompeii has a large dining room, kitchen and 6 bedrooms

  • Some guest wrote their names in bedrooms

  • Two friends, Lucius & Primigenus, shared one room and 4 actors shred another

  • Plenty of snack bars [thermopolia] in Pompeii – you can still see food counters & containers from which dishes were served

  • No large scale industry nor factories in Pompeii but plenty of small scale business such as dry cleaners, bakers

Shop with wooden clothes press
Shop with wooden clothes press NB how narrow they are!!

Thermopolium fountain
Thermopolium & fountain NB how narrow they are!!

Public buildings
Public buildings NB how narrow they are!!

  • Amphitheatre the oldest surviving in the empire [c 80BC]

  • Lacks the network of underground rooms found at the Colosseum in Rome

  • Forum, temples, law courts, council offices, business headquarters

  • One of the earliest buildings found in Pompeii was the Temple of Apollo [6th C BC]

  • A temple to a Greek god at this time suggests the early influence of Greek colonists

Fortified towns
Fortified towns NB how narrow they are!!

  • Pompeii has strong walls, towers and gates

  • Earliest sections of wall date from 5th C BC

  • 12 towers added in about 100BC

  • Sulla besieged the town in 89 BC during the revolt of much of Italy against Rome in what has become known as the Social War [socii is Latin for ‘allies’]

  • Herculaneum also had walls though les well preserved

  • An indication of how peaceful the Roman empire had become is the existence of grand houses on the promontory overlooking the sea at Herculaneum often using parts of the defensive wall as sun terraces!!

  • Cemeteries were outside the town gates by Roman custom

Graffiti NB how narrow they are!!

  • This gives us a real insight into the real thoughts of the ordinary citizen, adult or child, of Pompeii

  • Herculaneum [a more dignified town!?] had far less graffiti

  • Much related to the annual March elections for town officials

  • It is said of one candidate that “he stands for good bread” [bonam panem fert]

  • Another said that “Vibius Restitutus slept here alone and missed his dear Urbana”!!!

  • One girls rejects the overtures of Tertius because he is too ugly!

  • Obscene graffiti is very common, both heterosexual and homosexual

  • Someone else write “everyone writes on walls except me”

  • A schoolboy also writes that if you don’t like the works of Cicero you will be whacked!!

Graffiti cont
Graffiti NB how narrow they are!! cont….

  • Gladiators get much praise – Celadus the Thracian is “the girls heart throb” [suspirium puellarum]

  • Actors seem equally popular – one group inform us that they are “companions of the Paris Club” while another writes “Actius our favourite, come back quickly

  • There are signs of a high level of literary culture with Virgil, Tibullus, Lucretius and Ovid being quoted [think of you quoting Shakespeare!]

  • Some of these literary quotes, obviously by children judging by their height, are probably an attempt to show off what they had learnt at school

  • One adult quoted or wrote some delightful folk poetryNothing lasts forever though the sun shines gold it must sink into the sea The moon has also disappeared which but now so brightly gleamed so if the loved one rages hold fast, this storm will soon yield to the soft Zephyrs

Some more graffiti
Some more graffiti!!! NB how narrow they are!!

  • Samius to Cornelius – go hang yourself!

  • Health to those who invite me to lunch

  • The weaver, Successus, loves Iris the slave of the innkeeper’s wife

  • I am surprised, O wall, that you who have to bear the weariness of so many writers, are still standing

  • Lovers, like bees, need a life of honey

Real people
Real people! NB how narrow they are!!

  • It has been possible to identify individuals of Pompeii.

  • A bronze statue of the banker Lucius Caecilius Iucundus includes a wart on his face

  • There is also a wall? painting of a young married couple holding a papyrus roll and a wax tablet possibly showing Paquius Proculus who we know rose from being a baker to the town official of aedile

  • We know that 7 children died in an upper room of the house of Paquius Proculus

  • Population of Pompeii has been quoted as between 8000 and 10,000 [antiquity 1] but generally as about 20,000

Real people cont
Real people! NB how narrow they are!!Cont….

  • One piece of graffiti states “Hail, profit!” perhaps giving us a real glimpse of what Pompeians were all about!!

  • 40% slaves

  • We know that the following were included amongst the people of Pompeii: artists, metal workers, glass blowers, potters as well as bakers, inn keepers, weaving & spinning [cottage industries], wine making, olive oil production, bath attendants and brothel keepers!

  • Venus, goddess of love, was the patron god of the city!