Pompeii: Roman Time Capsule Professor Will Adams Valencia College Fall 2011
Mount On Tuesday, August 4, 79 AD, the people of PompeiiVesuvius awoke to a relatively normal day. Small earthquakes had been shaking the area for 4 days, but the people thought nothing of it, they were used to these. Because the volcano had been dormant for 800 years, no one realized that it was a volcano. No one thought that the earthquakes were signs that Vesuvius would erupt.
That morning Vesuvius began to showclear signs that it was erupting.Between 9 and 10 AM it shot a smallcloud of ash into the air.At 1:00, as the city went about its dailyactivities, “the volcano awoke with amassive explosion”, and earthquakesshook the city.Ash, pumice, and heavy volcanic rockbegan to fall on the city.By 5:30 there was a layer of debris 2”deep covering the city. Bymidnight, houses were covered up totheir first floor. Many roofs began tocave in. An eruption of Mt. Vesuvius on April 26, 1872
The rain of ash and rock was only the first stage of the eruption. There were five more to come. The next 5 all including a surge of hot gas (350-650 degrees!) and a fast pyroclastic flow of hot gas and rock (400 degrees!). This is the most deadly type of Volcanic activity, and is sometimes described as a glowing cloud.Pyroclastic flow sweeps down the side of MayonVolcano, Philippines, 15 September 1984
Rediscovering PompeiiPompeii was rediscovered by1784 by Alcubierre – a treasurehunter for the King of France.Though it was neglected atfirst, Pompeii, like any otherarchaeological site, provides uswith some really interestinginformation.Pompeii provided us with twothings:1.Records of the people’sdeaths.2.Records of the people’s lives.
Records of Peoples’ DeathsPeople who died in thelater stages of Vesuvius’eruption were immediatelyburied by waves of hot ash.The ash hardened aroundthem. Later, after theirbodies haddecomposed, cavities wereleft in the exact shape ofthe person who had diedthere.
Records ofPeoples’ LivesAs archaeologists uncoverthe city of Pompeii, we canlearn a lot of what theirlives were like by looking atwhat they left behind.Pompeii was part of theRoman Empire. Whatarchaeologists have foundthere is a lot like what hasbeen found in other partsof Rome.Top: Bird’s-eye-view of PompeiiBottom Left: Map of ItalyBottom Right: Road in Pompeii
Materials: 1. Concrete: Invented by the Romans: Cheaper than the marble the Greeks had used, and more durable than the terra cotta their ancestors had. Because it’s not a beautiful as marble, the Romans would often make things our of concrete and overlay them with Marble. 2. Brick Often used to cover walls, just like you see it today.
Types of Architecture: Typical HouseOnly the wealthy could afford a house.Houses had different-purposedsmall, windowless rooms surrounding a largereception room called an atrium. The atriumwould be brilliantly colored with wallhangings, paintings, and floor tiles. The colorwould be lit with an opening in the roof andalso aired by this same opening.
The AqueductsAqueducts are channels constructed of brick or stone designed to carry water to a locationin which it can be used. Although Rome didnt have the first aqueduct of the world, it wasthe only major city reasonably supplied with water and therefore most famous for them. ByA.D. 97, a water commissioner named Marcus Agrippa supplied Rome with 85 milliongallons of water from a mountain spring through nine different aqueducts. Other Romancolonies that were deprived of a water source soon had aqueducts to supply them with the"source of life".
Public Baths Public baths were an important part of Roman life. Early baths generally had dressing room suites and bathing chambers with hot, warm, and cold-water baths alongside an exercise area. Later, baths became progressively grander, incorporating libraries, lecture halls, and vast vaulted public spaces elaborately decorated with statues, mosaics, and paintings.
AmphitheatersAmphitheatre means"theatres in the round":(amphi- means “dual" inGreek.)An amphitheatre is atheatre for action: its asports arena, where thespectators sit around thefield. They need to see, butthey dont really need tohear, so an amphitheatrecan be quite large.
Roman basilicas were used for law courts or for commerce. They consisted of a roofed hall containing a wide nave, separated from twoBasilica side aisles by rows of columns. The nave walls rose above the aisle roofs and were pierced with windows. At the far end of the nave was usually a raised platform on which stood an altar. Behind the platform, the hall terminated in an apse, which had seats for officials. Later, the name “basilica” was conferred as an honor on certain churches selected by the popes. In the 4th century, when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion, churches throughout the empire were built on the basilica plan, usually over the grave of a saint.
Sculpture Roman sculpture began after the Roman conquest of Greece. The Greeks had been practicing the art of sculpture for many centuries. Roman sculpture differs from Greek sculpture. The Greeks like to sculpt perfect people and the Romans liked to create representations of reality.
Mosaics Mosaics are another craft that the Romans brought over from the Greeks. They were very popular, and can be found in many Roman homes, often as a floor, or wall decoration. They were made by putting small pieces of tile or glass into pavement like a puzzle.
FrescoesFrescoes are made bypainting on top of wetplaster so that the paint isabsorbed into the plasterand dries in it. This makesthem last for a very longtime. The most frescoeshave been found nearPompeii.Frescoes are one of themost prevalent forms ofRoman art. Romans likedto cover up any blank wallspace that they had, somany houses are full offrescoes.