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Strengths and limitations of available archaeological sources. Human and animal remains Mosaics and wall paintings Statues .Pompeii and Herculaneum. Human and animal remains.

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strengths and limitations of available archaeological sources

Strengths and limitations of available archaeological sources

Human and animal remains

Mosaics and wall paintings


.Pompeii and Herculaneum.

human and animal remains
Human and animal remains
  • Human and animal remains have provided significant amounts of information on many aspects of Pompeii and Herculaneum including health, daily life, religion, occupations, stages of the eruption etc. Although limitations do apply to archaeological evidence especially remains as there will always be differing questions and statements, varied interpretations of remains and its never possible to ‘know the past’.
mosaics and wall paintings
Mosaics and wall paintings
  • Mosaics and wall paintings provide a large range of evidence for many aspects of Herculaneum and Pompeii. They are displayed all over the two towns in houses, shops, the forum, temples, theatre etc.
  • They provide evidence for political, cultural, religious, economical and military aspects of everyday and occasional occurrences in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
  • The limitations of mosaics and wall paintings could be the false depiction of an image due to person opinion or bias, only conveying the special or more attractive images or dramatising them to make more interesting.
  • Statues are effective source of archaeological evidence as they provide good information on political life, social status, economic structure and religious aspects of Pompeii and Herculaneum
  • Limitations of these source are evident in the depiction of the statues being bias, propaganda or completely out of proportion. They can give false ideas of the real characters as statues usually depict people that their best not their everyday image.
cast of victims pompeii
“A fearful black cloud was rent by forked and quivering bursts of flame, and parted to reveal great tongues of fire…. Darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a dark room.” described by Pliny the Younger

In the House of the Golden Bracelet this cast of an adult and child were found near a second adult and child pair, they are believed to make up a small family group that was found under the staircase of the same house. The four were killed by the collapse of the staircase. It also provides evidence that religion was important as they lady is depicted as praying.

Plaster casts made from human remains show real people caught as they fled the eruption with their most prized possessions.  The casts reveal objects that illuminate the inhabitants’ daily lives. The strengths of this cast provided detail on the stages of the eruption and information on types of occupants in the houses.

The limitation would be the belief that the two pairs were related is debated and the actions of the lady as praying is argued to be defence from the collapsing staircase.

Cast of Victims Pompeii
donkey occupation
A source of animal remains is the bones of a donkey found in the mills of Herculaneum at the bakery of Sextus Patulcus Felix

The remains depict the occupation of bakeries in Pompeii, the donkeys were used to turn the mills which grinded the wheat using pumis to be used in bread.

The strengths of these remains is effective in revealing an industry of baking in Herculaneum and how it worked

The limitation of the remains could have been the donkeys were previously used for the above purpose but had not been used in some time as newer methods were preferred. This leads to incorrect information on the working of the mills.

Image depicted is not real evidence of the donkey found

Donkey occupation
priests of isis
Priests of Isis
  • Bodies of priests and sacrificial objects (statues, vessels, pates) have been discovered outside the temple of Isis which reflected some type of religious ritual went on.
  • The bodies provide information on the religious rituals that occurred and can also be used as reference to the Egyptian influence on culture.
  • The temple of Isis was an Egyptian cult
  • The strengths of these remains is that they can prove their were religious rituals performed in the temples and in Pompeii and show a Egyptian influence on culture.
  • the limitations is that there are still a number of questions that could be asked on the observation of this evidence.
resin casts health
This picture shows a reins cats of a body found in Pompeii. The moment the body was excavated, a transparent epoxy resin was poured into the cavity left by the body. The cast allows the viewer to observe remains that were not yet deteriorated in the cavity— many bones and even teeth are apparent through this transparent material.

This helped reveal evidence on the health of the people living in the region. The casts helped uncover that the teeth of the people were quite good due to seafood diets although were worn down due to pumis in the bread, there was fertility problem in the region, and some evidence of lead poison due to the pipes.

The bodies also provided evidence on occupations (from upper/lower body muscle definition) and the eruption and its stages (death form falling pumis, asphyxiation, heat etc

The strengths of these resin bodies is that they provide a lot of information about the eruption, the health of the people, occupations and life in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The limitations of the bodies is that some aspects of observing them can come down to assumptions and general knowledge, leading to the information not always being accurate.

Resin casts health
caupona of salvius
Caupona of Salvius
  • This wall painting provides evidence on occupation, food and drink and gambling
  • The painting depicts an inn, located in Pompeii that sold food and drink to the lower class of society. The first painting on the left reveals a prostitute, kissing a man; the next a woman delivering a large jug and cup while two customers compete to be served and the last a quarrel between two dice players.
  • The strengths of this fresco is that is depicts various types of evidence on a range of aspects in Pompeii.
  • The limitations of the paintings is that it may be dramatised becoming unrealistic to everyday happenings in the inn’s.
mosaic of alexander the great
Mosaic of Alexander the Great
  • A mosaic, found in Pompeii's House of Faun.
  • Presented is Alexander the great and the battle between Alexandra and Darius the third of Persia. and is significant as it is said to be one of the best depictions of him. It reflects the Egyptian influence on Pompeii as it was created by an Egyptian craftsmen. Egyptian influence became very popular across the Pompeii herculean region.
  • Its strengths are the clear and effective depiction of Alexandra the great and the evidence it provides for architectural influence and everyday influence of Egyptian culture.
  • The limitation for uses as battle evidence is that it is bias in order to convey Alexandra as powerful and fearless.
atrium mosaics
Atrium mosaics
  • The room directly to the left of the entrance way of the forum in Pompeii. An atrium, with the sunken floor and open ceiling. These mosaics depict diagrams on how to bath correctly as this was very important in Pompeii. It was a social event also associated with political and business meetings. the mosaics also depict the hygiene regime took place everyday and was luxurious. Other activities like prostitution, food and drink, sporting, therapeutic options and cultural activities are also displayed on the walls in mosaics.
  • The strengths of these wall paintings is that it Is a good source of evidence on various aspects of Pompeii and Herculaneum's daily activities.
  • The limitations is that it could be rare occurrences that these happen and the mosaics only show the luxury and elaborate aspects of the baths.
garum sauce container
Garum sauce container
  • Garum sauce container depicted in a mosaic on the floor of Scaurus.
  • Scaurus locally produced the sauce and created the mosaics in his entranceway as a symbol of what brought his family wealth.
  • The mosaic depicts a very popular food said by Pliny the Elder to be excellent.
  • The strengths of this mosaic is that it provided information on occupations, food, trade and sources of wealth.
  • The limitations is that the mosaic may be bias as it is placed in the entrance way of the creator house, made out to be better than it is.
marble statue of woman
Marble statue of woman
  • This statue found in Pompeii was originally depicted a member of a powerful family who were the final owners of the Villa of the Mysteries. Emperor Tiberius had the original head replaced with his mother Livia's likeness. This statue conveys ideas of social status.
  • The strengths are that the statue provides evidence of rich lavishly dressed women obviously of importance as it was rare to see statues of women. also the political power and propaganda that came with Tiberius rule.
  • The limitations would be that it was changed throughout time which makes it hard to be reliable.
bronze statue of apollo
Bronze statue of Apollo
  • This detailed piece was taken from the house of Julius Polybius in Pompeii, a man of Greek descent. The bronze statue of Apollo was converted into a lamp stand and was found locked up in the villa along with other objects of upper-middle class economic status.
  • Apollo was originally a Greek god by was adopted by roman. There is a large building in the forum dedicate to Apollo.
  • The strengths of this statues is that it provides evidence of practicing religions in the private spheres of Pompeii and the emphasis the gods have on peoples lives.
  • The limitations would be the change of the statue into a lamp as it lessened its importance.
the statue of proconsul marcus nonius balbus
The statue of Proconsul Marcus Nonius Balbus
  • The statue of Proconsul Marcus Nonius Balbus is found in Herculaneum, there are many statues located across the village of Pompeii.
  • The statues can be used as source of political evidence constructing the statues to gain better position and recognition. Was used for political propaganda.
  • The strengths of this statue is it is a good source of evidence on the political aspects in Herculaneum.
  • The limitations of this source is that it is a bias depiction making him look stronger and more powerful.
statue of hercules
Statue of Hercules
  • The statue of Hercules was found in a Villa just outside of Pompeii.
  • The statue reflects the importance of gods in the region in providing them with different benefits.
  • The Doric temple in Pompeii was possibly dedicated to Hercules.
  • Hercules is the patron of Herculaneum protecting the city
  • It also depicts the influence of early Greek influence on the region.
  • The strengths of this statue is that it provides evidence of the early Greek influence and the importance of gods to the people.
  • The limitations is that it was found outside off Pompeii, may not be a direct source for the religious aspects of Pompeii but more for the region.