Classical Civilisation - Pompeii

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Everything you could possibly ever need to know for the OCR Pompeii exam! I hope this helps :).

 In studying the individual aspects of Pompeii, candidates will be expected to assess the evidence provided by the town and to draw conclusions about its prosperity, the values and priorities of its citizens, and the attractiveness of living in such a town. Candidates should recognise how life in Pompeii reflects the success of the Roman empire as a whole.

Candidates will also be expected to understand how the nature of Pompeii’s destruction was a key factor in its preservation and thereby its value as an archaeological site.

Specific topics:

The original site

Its advantages as a place for settlement.


The earthquake of 62 AD and volcanic activity immediately prior to 79 AD.

The events of 24–26 August 79 AD; including the substances that buried Pompeii. Pliny as a source.

Evidence of how the inhabitants died.

The contribution of Giuseppe Fiorelli to the excavation.


The town house (domus ) – typical design, layout, main rooms, decoration and furniture – with particular reference to:

(a) the House of the Vettii,

(b) the House of the Faun.

The owners, the layout, particular rooms of special interest, decoration, unusual features, objects found, mosaics and wall paintings; and how the houses reflected the tastes, values and wealth of their owners.

The Forum

The layout and the main buildings and their positions:

commercial buildings - Macellum, Eumachia, Weights and Measures office, granaries (

horrea ); religious buildings - Temples of Jupiter/Apollo/Emperor ( Lares ); political buildings - offices of the aediles  and duovirs , Basilica, comitium.

Graffiti, statues of leading Pompeians, porticoes, stalls.

The importance of the forum as a commercial, political, administrative, social and religious centre.


The town council and magistrates. The duties and responsibilities of decurions, duovirs  and aediles .

Guilds and elections; political graffiti, election posters.

Inns and Thermopolia  

Layout, evidence for types of food and drink sold, with specific reference to the Thermopolium of Asellina.

The Theatre

The Large Theatre: size, design, including stage and scenery.

Comedies and their production in Plautus’ time: typical plots and types of character, use of masks.

Audience attitudes to shows in the theatres, their involvement and comfort.

The Baths

Candidates should have detailed knowledge of the Stabian Baths including: typical features, the layout, the heating system, the bathing experience ( apodyterium, palaestra, tepidarium, caldarium, frigidarium ), other amenities.

The baths in relation to the climate, daily routine, business and social life of the Pompeians.

The Amphitheatre

The building and the layout, the shows, their purposes, the riot of 59 AD and its consequences.

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[POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
Classical Civilisation
The Original Site 2
The Destruction 3­5
Houses 5 ­ 10
The Forum 10 ­ 13
Government 13 ­ 15
Inns and Thermopolia 15 ­ 16
Theatre 16 ­ 18
Baths 18 ­ 19
The Amphitheatre 20

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Page 2

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
Classical Civilisation
The Original Site
It was not until the 1st century BC that the Romans took full control of
the town.…read more

Page 3

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
The Destruction
The Earthquake of 62 AD
Houses and temples had collapse and people lay buried beneath the
rubble. After the earthquake, people took the opportunity to improve
on what there had been before, such as old houses replaced with
newer and grander ones. The forum in particular was being redone.
Therefore, the town resembled a large building site as it was
recovering from the earthquake.
Volcanic Activity Prior to the Eruption
There were earth tremors for four days before.…read more

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
The Two Plinys
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius was the first to be recorded by an
eyewitness, Pliny `the Younger'. He was a 17 year old boy, staying with
his uncle, Pliny `the Elder' ­ a natural historian and an admiral in the
Roman navy.
Pliny `the Younger' wrote letters to a historian, Tacticus, describing
what he saw from his uncle's house on the north side of the Bay of
Naples in Misenum.…read more

Page 5

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
Giuseppe Fiorelli and Pompeii's Rediscovery
Pompeii lay hidden until the 18th century. The earliest excavators were
careless, damaging buildings and removing items for private
Giuseppe Fiorelli appeared on the scene in the 19th century and he
brought a more scientific approach to the excavation of Pompeii.
He produced plaster casts of corpses who had been buried in ash,
rotted away and subsequently left a cavity. A plaster replica was
then created and showed the person's death pose.…read more

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
Many bodies were found inside as well as outside buildings on the
streets. They were typically found in groups, thought to represent
families.…read more

Page 7

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
Entrance to a house was usually via a large door, through a small
corridor into the atrium
On the outside of the houses (at the front) there were usually
shops, which would be rented out for money
Some had upstairs areas, but little evidence of this remains
Furniture was usually sparing, with beds and dining couches as
the main items
Wealthier houses were often decorated with mosaics and
frescoes (wall paintings) that typically depicted stories from
history or mythology
The House of…read more

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
Next to the second atrium was the kitchen and one of the two sets
of household service quarters
One of the rooms contained erotic paintings
On the other side of the main atrium, is the other set of service
quarters with space that may have contained stables
The focal point of the house was the peristylium
o Number of running fountains
o Statues of bronze/marble
The garden was surrounded by the main reception rooms which
was rare (most Roman houses didn't base…read more

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
The `main atrium' (the bigger one) was more important because it
led to the tablinum
The tablinum was made to creat a powerful impression on the the
guests or clients
The hosue takes its name from the statue of a dancing faun found
in the impluvium in the main atrium
Other important features include:
o Its size allowed it to have two peristylia which were
separated by the summer room
o On the floor of the summer room was a grand mosaic…read more

Page 10

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POMPEII] Classical Civilisation
Artefacts in the Houses
House of the Vettii House of Faun
Priapus weighing his phallus "HAVE" in the entrance way
Frieze of Cupids Alexander mosaic
Punishment of Ixion for Bacchus on a lion
trying to rape Hera
Pentheus being torn apart Sea creatures
by the Bacchae
Baby Hercules killing a Scenes on the River Nile
Dirce tied to a bull A cat carrying a dead bird in
its mouth
Ariadne being abandoned by The dancing faun
Pasiphae and her passion…read more



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Zain oppal

what does 24–26 mean?


Very detailed revision guide to Pompeii. In the absence of any published revision guides this teacher is very grateful to the student who created this.


I did 9/11 with Bush


I'm really impressed . Thanks . Actually I studied this topic in French but I love the story of Pompei and  it's very well organised .


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