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Pompeii and Herculaneum Sources
The range of sources Architectural structures and spaces at Pompeii and Herculaneum: • domestic dwellings • places of worship • places of work • places of entertainment • shops and • public spaces
The variety of decorative arts: • frescoes • mosaics • sculptures • furniture Written sources – • inscriptions • public notices • graffiti • papyri rolls • wax tablets
Essential Knowledge • 1.You should be aware of the following – • What type of archaeological source is it ? • a private building • a public building • a monument • an artefact
What type of written source is it ? • a literary source • an epigraphic source (inscription) • a numismatic source (coins or medals)
Has the source been dated ? • Is it a primary or secondary source ? • In the case of an archaeological source, where was it located ? • In what state of preservation is the source ? • If it is a line drawing or a photograph, how accurate is it ? • What information does the source not provide ?
Archaeological sources • the study of human remains can provide information on gender, age, appearance, general state of health, a probable cause of death • everyday objects provide historians with a snapshot of daily life • buildings give some idea of the big-picture. However, much of the information available is based on subjective impressions. • wax tablets provide information about business and legal activities and family structures.
Epigraphic sources • wall writings offer a record of electoral slogans, gladiatorial programs and various other events • formal inscriptions throw some light on the system of government, the social structure and social change
Written sources • Cicero [c.106-43 BC] – provides information about political activities in Pompeii post 80 BC • Strabo [c.63 BC-21 AD – provides descriptions of Vesuvius prior to the eruption and of the SarnoValley • Seneca [c.4 BC-65 AD] – provides information about the earthquake of AD 62 which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum • DioCassius [c.150-235 AD] – provides information about the eruption 100 years after the event • Tacitus [c.55-120 AD] – he alludes briefly to the eruption in his prologue. In his Historiae, he may have made reference to Pliny’s description of the eruption but this work is lost. • Pliny the Younger [c.61-113 AD]
In assessing the reliability of sources the following issues need to be considered – • the context in which the source is found – artefacts must be related to other things around them • the reliability of dating methods • artefacts or organic materials are not in themselves evidence, they can be interpreted in different ways by archaeologists and historians • both sites are only partially excavated and there are, therefore, gaps in the evidence available