Pompeii Part 3: Nature of evidence

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Pompeii Part 3: Nature of evidence

  1. 1. CORE STUDY Cities of Vesuvius: Pompeii & Herculaneum HSC ANCIENT HISTORY
  2. 2. PART 3: THE NATURE OF SOURCES AND EVIDENCE <ul><li>The Range of available sources </li></ul><ul><li>Limitations, Reliability and Evaluation of sources </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Nature of Sources and Evidence <ul><li>Much archaeological evidence has been ignored, neglected, destroyed or not reported </li></ul><ul><li>Everyday objects have been neglected over time. Their value is in understanding everyday life at Pompeii & Herculaneum. </li></ul><ul><li>New methods of scientific research of human and plant remains have provided new insights into life at Pompeii & Herculaneum. </li></ul><ul><li>There are not many literary (written) sources – fragmented at best </li></ul><ul><li>Pliny the Younger’s account “Letters to Tacitus” vital to our understanding of events of 79A.D. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Pompeii is probably the most studied of the worlds archaeological sites and is perhaps the least understood” </li></ul><ul><li>Andrew Wallace Hadrill </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>3 Categories of sources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Archaeological </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Epigraphic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Literary </li></ul></ul>The Nature of Sources and Evidence
  5. 5. <ul><li>Wide variety of archaeological sources </li></ul><ul><li>However, they have been subject to neglect, damage, poor archaeological methodology, subjective analysis and conjecture </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore many sources are unreliable </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of archaeological sources include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Architecture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Art </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inscriptions / wall writings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Objects from everyday life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Human, animal and plant remains </li></ul></ul>Archaeological Sources
  6. 6. Archaeological Sources <ul><li>1. Architecture </li></ul><ul><li>Variety of architectural structures in Pompeii and Herculaneum including walls, gates, the forum, amphitheatre, exercise ground (palaestra), public baths and toilets, brothels, taverns and inns, tombs, shops, suburban and country villas, streets etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Much of the architectural evidence has disappeared forever some not studied </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretations regarding architecture was based upon “subjective impression and uncontrolled conjecture” </li></ul><ul><li>Problems identifying the purposes of certain buildings. </li></ul><ul><li>What we can learn from architecture: </li></ul><ul><li>The standard of living </li></ul><ul><li>Influx of wealth and influence from Hellenistic cultures </li></ul><ul><li>The forum as the hub of the city – political / social / religious centre </li></ul><ul><li>Building materials and practises </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of distinction between upper and lower classes </li></ul><ul><li>Mix of industrial, commercial and residential areas. </li></ul><ul><li>Defence, transport, water supply structures </li></ul>
  7. 8. View of the Forum, Pompeii.
  8. 9. Basilica (Law Courts) in the Forum, Pompeii.
  9. 10. Temple of Apollo in the Forum, Pompeii
  10. 11. Temple of Jupiter in the Forum, Pompeii
  11. 12. Amphitheatre
  12. 13. Palaestra and Amphitheatre
  13. 14. Odeon (small theatre)
  14. 15. Forum Baths
  15. 16. House of the Trellis
  16. 17. House of the Vetti
  17. 18. A shop front
  18. 19. A Snack Bar (Thermopolium)
  19. 20. A Bakery – Lava stone mills and oven
  20. 21. Brothel on a street corner
  21. 22. Archaeological Sources <ul><li>2. Art </li></ul><ul><li>Many different forms of artwork including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Frescos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Paintings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mosaics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decorative sculptures in bronze and marble </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A magnificent array of household furnishings. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Popular Art </li></ul><ul><ul><li>exterior walls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>scenes of human activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>sources of evidence for everyday life </li></ul></ul>
  22. 23. <ul><li>Frescoes </li></ul><ul><li>Greek style (Hellenistic) paintings on walls of buildings </li></ul><ul><li>Because few could afford to decorate their house with original Greek art, they had to settle for imitations </li></ul><ul><li>Frescoes reveal: </li></ul><ul><li>Developments of Roman pictorial art over three centuries </li></ul><ul><li>The process of Fresco painting and the various workshops. </li></ul>Archaeological Sources
  23. 24. Archaeological Sources <ul><li>Wall paintings </li></ul><ul><li>Styles of Wall paintings: </li></ul><ul><li>Wall paintings have been classified into four styles – devised in 1882 by August Mau: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(3 century – 80BC) structural style > masonry of Greek architecture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(80 BC – 20 BC) architectural style > Greek architectural elements (columns) eg. Villa of Mysteries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(20 BC – AD 50) ornamental style > still life: nature, mythology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(AD 50 – AD 79) fantastic style > bright colours, “theatrical fantasy” eg. House of Vetti </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Villa of Mysteries
  25. 26. House of the Vetti
  26. 27. House of the Vetti
  27. 28. Archaeological Sources <ul><li>Mosaics </li></ul><ul><li>A range of geometric figurative mosaics were found on walls, columns and floors of the buildings of Pompeii </li></ul><ul><li>The earliest floors of the buildings of Pompeii and Herculaneum were composed of mortar mixed with crushed tiles and volcanic stones. </li></ul><ul><li>Styles of mosaics changed from geometric designs to figurative and mythological elements. Eg. the Entrance to the House of the Chained Dog. </li></ul>
  28. 30. “ Beware of the dog”
  29. 32. <ul><li>Decorative Garden and household furnishings </li></ul><ul><li>sculpture ornaments in homes often Hellenistic (Greek) style </li></ul><ul><li>Many impressive pieces eg. silver table pieces of the nobles a sign of social status and wealth </li></ul>Archaeological Sources
  30. 33. <ul><li>3. Inscriptions / wall writings (Epigraphy) </li></ul><ul><li>Most epigraphy is “spontaneous” > painted or scratched on building walls </li></ul><ul><li>Formal inscriptions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meant to be permanent eg. civic charters / regulations on buildings, commemorative plaques, funerary inscriptions on tombs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Formal inscriptions teach us about > prominent people / families, politics, economy, construction dates of buildings. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wall Writings – Public Notices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>most refer to time directly before 79AD </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>electoral slogans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>property sales / rental notices </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wall Writings – Graffiti </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Any available wall” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>gossip, jokes, love, records, reminders, ads, threats etc </li></ul></ul>Archaeological Sources
  31. 35. An example of political graffiti from Pompeii
  32. 36. <ul><li>Examples of Wall Graffiti </li></ul><ul><li>Political: </li></ul><ul><li> &quot;The goldsmiths unanimously urge the election of Gaius Cuspius Pansa as aedile...“ </li></ul><ul><li> &quot;If upright living is considered any recommendation, Lucretius Fronto is well worthy of the office&quot; </li></ul><ul><li> &quot;Vote for Lucius Popidius Sabinus; his grandmother worked hard for his last election…” </li></ul><ul><li>Love: </li></ul><ul><li> &quot;Marcus loves Spendusa&quot; &quot;The weaver Successus loves the innkeeper's slave girl, Iris by name. She doesn't care for him, but he begs her to take pity on him. Written by his rival. So long.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Other: </li></ul><ul><li> &quot;Aufidius was here.&quot; &quot;Ampliatus Pedania is a thief&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>On a bathroom wall: </li></ul><ul><li> &quot;Apollinaris, physician of the Emperor Titus, had a good shit here!&quot; </li></ul>Archaeological Sources
  33. 37. <ul><li>4. Wax tablets and Rolls of Papyri </li></ul><ul><li>Business activities </li></ul><ul><li>Legal documents </li></ul><ul><li>Philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>Eg. Two bundles of wooden tablets coated with wax have been excavated from Pompeii and reveal the business activities of the banker Cecilius Jucundus. </li></ul><ul><li>Library of papyri scrolls found in the ‘Villa of the Papyri’ at Herculaneum (owned by Julius Caesar’s father in law). Rolls carbonised by the eruption of Vesuvius, many yet to be ‘unrolled’. </li></ul>Archaeological Sources
  34. 38. Unopened papyrus roll from Herculaneum
  35. 39. Literate couple with ‘wax tablet’ Pompeii.
  36. 40. <ul><li>5. Objects of Everyday Life </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence for everyday life in 1st C AD </li></ul><ul><li>Kitchen utensils, furniture, lamps, carbonised food, pots, glass jars, surgical equipment, ropes, clothes press, cradles… </li></ul>Archaeological Sources
  37. 41. Roman Kitchen with Pots. Pompeii, House of the Vettii.
  38. 42. An Oxford undergraduate excavating a flowerpot in the peristyle garden of House VI 16,27, Pompeii.
  39. 43. <ul><li>6. Human, Animal and Plant Remains </li></ul><ul><li>It is not known how many people died at Pompeii > but excavated skeletons inform us of the age, gender, health, appearance, general lifestyle of Pompeian’s, population etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Sarah Bisel examined skeletons found at Herculaneum </li></ul><ul><li>Estelle Lazer studied the human remains at Pompeii. She said it was difficult to determine how many skeletons left in Pompeii – though no more then 500. </li></ul><ul><li>Some animal remains found, eg. Horses in stables, dogs still chained. </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Jashemski carried out extensive studies into plant life, comparing with evidence from paintings. This has revealed the types gardens homes, types of produce, timber used in construction etc. </li></ul>Archaeological Sources
  40. 44. Food remains from a latrine pit at Pompeii, clockwise from top right: grape pips, fig pips, fish bones, sea urchin shell.
  41. 46. Bodies in the boathouse at Herculaneum, studied by Dr Sara Bisel
  42. 47. Archaeologist working on human remains at Herculaneum
  43. 49. <ul><li>Written sources are “patchy”. Most have a specific focus of enquiry. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to be supplemented through other literary and epigraphic sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strabo - Geography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vitruvius - Of Architecture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seneca - Natural Questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pliny the Elder - Natural History </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pliny the Younger – Letters to Tacitus </li></ul></ul>Literary Sources
  44. 50. Literary Sources <ul><li>Strabo </li></ul><ul><li>His natural histories demonstrated the resources of Campania, varieties of fish and plants, textile products, building methods and names of famous Greek and Roman artists. </li></ul><ul><li>Dio Cassius </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote sometime in the late 2nd century. Brief description of events of 79 AD. </li></ul><ul><li>Statius </li></ul><ul><li>Roman poet who wrote less then 20 years after eruption – recalls cities buried by Vesuvius </li></ul><ul><li>Suetonious </li></ul><ul><li>10-50 years after the eruption – wrote about the action taken by the Emperor Titus </li></ul><ul><li>Vitruvius </li></ul><ul><li>Recorded Roman building methods and what specific rooms were used for in houses. </li></ul>
  45. 51. Literary Sources <ul><li>Pliny the Elder </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote about the naturalistic aspects of Pompeii. </li></ul><ul><li>Is thorough in his examination and writings – the only ancient author to use a tablet of contexts and cite his sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Records “what was believed at the time”. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Natural History” </li></ul><ul><li>resources of Campania </li></ul><ul><li>varieties of fish and medicinal plants </li></ul><ul><li>textile process </li></ul><ul><li>building methods, making of paint for artwork </li></ul><ul><li>names of famous Greek and Roman artists and descriptions of works </li></ul>
  46. 52. <ul><li>Pliny the Younger </li></ul><ul><li>Latin Orator </li></ul><ul><li>Adopted by uncle Pliny the Elder </li></ul><ul><li>Left 10 books including 2 letters to historian Tacitus describing eruption </li></ul><ul><li>The Two Letters to Tacitus: </li></ul><ul><li>written 25 years after he experienced the events </li></ul><ul><li>report on volcanic eruption and the death of his uncle </li></ul><ul><li>first eyewitness report on volcanic eruption </li></ul><ul><li>says nothing of what happened to Pompeii and Herculaneum </li></ul><ul><li>Reliable??? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pliny the younger not with his Uncle. Relied on second hand accounts of how he died </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documented 25 years later </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seems he and Tacitus concerned more with celebrating Pliny the Elder than recording what happened </li></ul></ul>Literary Sources
  47. 53. Limitations & Reliability of Sources <ul><li>Despite the enormous range of archaeological sources, there are still big gaps in the evidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of written sources from people about everyday life. </li></ul><ul><li>Limited excavation of Herculaneum. </li></ul><ul><li>Both Pompeii and Herculaneum tend to reveal more about the wealthy and literate males in society. </li></ul>
  48. 54. <ul><li>The sites are always open to new interpretations of evidence – especially with development of new technology and archaeological methods. </li></ul><ul><li>Also problem with archaeologists viewing the evidence through ‘modern eyes’ – which can pose problems for interpretations of objects, buildings etc. </li></ul>Limitations & Reliability of Sources

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