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  • Created by: Sameen
  • Created on: 16-06-13 12:24

Original Site


Good defense: At the base of a volcano

Good for Agriculture: At the base of volcano, so fertile land, and Near the River Sarnus, good source of water to water crops.

Sustainance: Food for agriculture, Water from river Sarnus and volcanic springs, and sea provides a good place to fish for food.

Trade: River Sarnus, and Sea. Fish can be something that they trade.

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Earthquake of 62AD

Ground roared and began to tremble, Latge cistern by Vesuvian gate broke, and so water flooded the town destroying it. It lasted the whole day, with short intervals, and went into the night. Citizens close to the countryside fled there, and found dead sheep (poisonous fumes released through ground). Linked tot the anger of the Gods; and so thanked them for their lives (marble relief).

Eruption 79AD

"umbrella pine", pumice stones, "smell of sulfur", cinder and ash, walls syawng etc. (Pliny)

lava pebbles, light white pumice, heavier grey puice, greenish grey pumie, hardened volcanic sand, lapilli, sandy ash, ash, lapilli, ash, lapilli (Archaelogical evidence)

Inhabitants died due to poisonous fumes, buried alive, falling rocks, thermal shock, pyroclastic surges and being trampled by people.

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Giuseppi Fiorelli

Giuseppi Fiorelli


  • Plaster Cast system (bodies and organic materials)
  • Numering (triple numbering of housing) REDISCOVERED the grid system.
  • Records; he kept detailed notes of all findigs. If items taken to Naples museum, replicas placed
  • Protection (he built rooves over excavated buildings to protect them from sun and rain. Also cleared mounds of debris.
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Typical layout:


#4 Fauces, #1 Atrium (Tusacan (2 beams) Tetrastyle (4 beams) Corinthian (6 beams)), #5 Impluvium, #8 Study, #2 Peristylium, #9 Summer triclinium? #14+#15 Kitchen (ovena nd a sink, pots made of bronze/earthenware) and slaves quarters.

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House of the Vetii

Vetii brothers - freedmen who aquired great wealth through the wine industry.

Entrance: Most famous for painting of Priapus (common image to symbolise wealth and prosperity). Could also be adopted as some sort of guardian deity.

TWO Atria: Tuscan style. Main atrium had two large strong boxes, studded with iron nails and covered in bronze. South side of main atrium, steps leading to stables and a toilet. Second atrium has a tufa impluvium, lararium.

Kitchen behind second atrium. Cubicle behind kitchend contained erotics paintings & 1statue.

No Tablinum 

Peristylium: Focal point of house, garden notoriously symmetrical, contains numerous fountains, statues, shrubery and flowers: roses, violets, hyacinths. Within garden, 2 bifronted herms on columns. Expected to protect boundaries of house. Possibly could have had oscillas.

Summer Triclinium; red walls with a black dado depicted cupids doing various activities: Target shooting, selling garlands, prep and sale of perfumed oil, chariot race, goldsmiths, fullers,bakers, wine makers.

Red Room: Pasiphae and Daedalus, ixion, Bacchus and Ariadne. Yellow Room: Pentheus, Hercules, Dirce.

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House of the Vetii (Significance)

  • The Vettii brothers, as freedmen who had made a lot of money, naturally wished to show off all their riches (Priapus painting and strong boxes).
  • Keen entertainers,had a summer dining room, two atria to welcome guests and numerous guest rooms, including a women's quarter.
  • Display of Greek art and mythology suggests they attempted to portray themselves as educated and refined, since knowledge of greek culture was considered an essential part of a well educated roman. BUT ex slaves, therefore no education, & NO tablinum.

A. main atrium, B. peristylium, C. summer dining room with cupid dado, D. red room, E. yellow room, F.women's quarters, G. 2nd atrium with lararium, H. kitchen


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House of Faun

One of the largest, most luxurious houses in Pompeii. Occupied an entire insula, and name given by the faun statue at entrance.

  • 2 Atria, first for business contacts and clients which had an impluvium decorated with coloured diamond shaoed stones and dancing faun statue on marble pedestal; walls painted to create illusion of second floor, floor paved with marble tiles, and second for family members, friends and guests (more intimate). One tuscan, and one tetrastyle with corinthian columns.
  • 2nd atrium lead to slave quarters, and to the larger peristylium (2 peristylia, first one had ionic colonnade and lead off of the tablinum, and second had doric collonade), which had a back door to allow slaves to work without disturbing master.
  • Small set of private baths, equipped with hypocaust system.
  • Front rooms used as shops.
  • Impressive mosaics, - Alexander the Great (highlights wealth and power of occupants, such grand and elaborate mosaics very rare, perhaps an interest in history?), - River Nile Scene (has hippos, crocodiles, ducks, snakes depicted, perhaps an interest in Egypt or travelling?),  - Cat carrying bird in its mouth.
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House of Faun (Significance)

  • Due to size, we can assume inhabitants was a wealthy, prominent local figure.
  • Enjoyed entertaining, had seasonal dining rooms, and two atria 9second for the use of private guests)
  • Keen to show off education and learning/culture, by having art related to the greek intellectual and cultural world, much like owners of house of vetii.
  • 3. Atria, 4. Peristylia, 1. Shops, #5 exedra with alexander mosaic.


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Heart of Pompeii

Central area - busy - politicians spoke to win influence, people met socially, market stalls etc

No vehicles around.

Double collonade skirted around forum, and most impressive buildings lay around it. Porticoes were where stalls were held (live market).

Lined with statues of importanct public figures in town and wider Roman Empire.

Commercial center: main place for sustainance (to buy food and clothes etc etc) eumachia's building prominent; fulling v. important.

Political: slogans, speeches took place here etc. Only way to gain support. Basilica and magistrates office - importance of democracy.

Religious: main temples. grand, impressive, communal worship.

Social: common meeting place, or to make new acquaintances.

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Forum Plan


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  • DECURIONES - town council. Made of 100 men, office was for lie but election every 4 years if any vacances. Usually former duoviris and aediles,
  • DUOVIRI, two most important magistrates - made legal decisions, oversaw meetings of town council. Also managed public funds. Had judicial powers.
  • AEDILES, next two most important men -    in charge of sanitation i.e. baths, roads, markets, town games (gladiator shows and plays etc), upkeep of public temples.
  • Both elected annually.
  • Curia, central municipal office contained town records.

Political graffiti found on walls of forum. Certain crafts would support certain politicians, i.e. All the fruit sellers with Helvius Vestalis call for Marconius Priscus as duovir for law suits.

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Inns and Thermopolia

  • Thermopolia often opened directly out onto streets with counters at front. Snack bars.
  • Found all over Pompeii, mainly on busy streets and near main gates, because Pompeii survived on trade, and so traders and merchants had to be catered for.


  • Often very small, Opened onto street
  • Outward facing masonry counter decorated with coloured pieces of marble.
  • Dolia (storage jars) embedded into counter with stone or wood lids.


  • hot wine, olives, bread, cheese, dried fruit, dates, figs, hot veg stews.
  • Animal and fish bones, and shellfish have been uncovered suggesting locals has a varied diet.


  • Cheap food for poor, Socialisation (gambling, drinking, fighting and kissing shown to happen)
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Thermopolium of Asselina

  • Best preserved thermopolium. Asselina; believed to be a waitress who worked there.
  • Located on Pompeii's main shopping street
  • Rooms to rent
  • Painted shrine on back wall, depicting Mercury (god of travellers), and Bacchus (God of wine). Owners clearly hoped Gods would bless their business.

Items found:

  • Terecotta jugs (cockerel and ******* shaped) and dishes found counter - shows how drinks were served.
  • Long necked amphorae
  • Tripod, suggesting hot food was served.
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The Theatre

Semicircular in shape, with tiered seating for visual and acoustic advantages. front seats for important guests i.e. duovirs, decuriones, aediles, priests etc.

Stage and Stage building (often very elaborate, 3 stories high with 3m high curtains and trap doors), with space in between seating and stage for orchestra. Open air - seated around 5000 people.


  • Thunder and lightning 
  • Crane
  • Revolving scenes


  • Seats made of stone, on avg 40cm wide
  • very cramped and hot (sweat) - but awning and audience sprinkled with scented water
  • Sometimes food and drink provided, or even gifts given

Audience: Vocal, but had the day off. Could leave to see acrobats/jugglers/boxers etc.

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Costumes and Masks


  • Greek costumes
  • Male actors played female roles
  • Wore short tunic tied with girdle, and woolen wrap underneath


  • Actors could play numerous roles
  • Projected voices
  • Clear indication of character (slaves had red hair, large mouth and googly eyes, rich wore purple, prostitutes wore yellow, travellers had walking boots and hats, men - brown mask, women - white mask)
  • Onkos (hair piece) which gave actors height and importance in tragedies
  • Usually caracaturs of character portrayed
  • Easier for audience to follow play, those at back can see exagerated masks but would be hard to see expressions on actor's face)

Actors: Little respect for them, but sort of idolised.Many were slaves, "grex" company of actors.

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Influenced by greek comedy, main writers - Plautus and Terence (more serious than Plautus).

New Comedy = Mime + Phlyax Plays + Atellan Plays

  • Atellan plays: stock characters: Maccus, Bucco (bulging cheeks), Manducus (huge jaws)
  • Mime: farce, considered vulgur, no masks, women actors, relied on gestures (had to be v. skilled)

Typical plot: repectable man falls in love with pretty but unsuitable slave girl. Slave helps get into and out of trouble to hide from father, finally discovered that girl is actually free born, happily ever after. Often had stock characters, complicated plots with a lot of misunderstandings,and relied on visual humour.

Sources of humour:

  • Visual humour (falling over)
  • Misunderatanding
  • Mistaken identity
  • Trickery
  • Verbal humour ( silly names, puns, jokes etc)
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The Baths

Stabian Baths:

Oldest public baths in Pompeii, with separate bathing areas for men and women. Shops not connected to baths, although some may have sold bath supplies i.e. oil, towels, snacks etc

Had a Palaestra, swimming pool and communal toilets.


Baths were central to Roman life, and were visited on a daily basis. They were govt funded, and managed by aediles, and so were free on entry was very cheap. Important to maintain a decent level of hygiene, to prevent spread of disease. Timings separate. Hypocaust heating.

  • Palaestra (area for exercise, i.e. weights, wrestling, running and fencing)
  • Piscina (Swimming pool, unisex but respectable women would avoid this)
  • Apodyterium (Stone benches and niches on walls, guards could be hired, oil rubbed on body)
  • Tepidarium (Benches around wall to sit and acclimatise oneself)
  • Caldarium (Domed roof, massage with strigil, benches, marble bath at one end)
  • Frigidarium (Circular cold plunge pool, tightened skin, not for women - too delicate)
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The Baths (Significance)

Social Significance of Baths:

  • Hygiene
  • Read in library
  • Excerise and sports
  • Relax (massages)
  • To make business deals and acquaintances (no offices)
  • Secure dinner invitations
  • Food and drink
  • Talk/Debate - politics, religion, philosophy
  • Beauty treatment
  • Enjoy beautiful surroundings (everything made of marble and coloured stone, very grand)
  • Show of wealth, (no. of slaves, dressing well, expensive oils and towels etc)
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The Amphitheatre

It was a circular building with sand in the central arena.

There were riots in 59AD:

  • gladiatorial show, with Pompeian and Nucerian spectators.
  • Pompeian spectator starts verbal match, but this soon escalated and became violent
  • stones thrown, then swords and full scale fighting broke out.

As a result, Pompeii was supposedly banned from holding games in amphitheatre for 10 years, and sponsor of show sent into exile.


Organised by Lanista (butcher), contractor; he would be asked by aedile. Gladiatorial shows NOT AS POPULAR as chariot racing.

  • Venationes, beast shows. More exotic the animal, the better - showed the prosperity and power of roman empire), i.e. bears, lions, boars, bulls, elephants but also giraffes, crocodiles, hippopotami. Bestiarii - took care on animals, then in arena, became hunters.
  • Executions, Midday slaughter - crucifiction, burning, or exposure to wild animal.
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Gladiatorial Shows

  • Thracian (curved dagger, small square or round shield, leather tapes around legs, 2 greaves)
  • Murmillo (Fish helmet, large rectangle or oval shield, dagger or short sword, bare body)
  • Retiarius (trident, dagger, net with chord, belt, loincloth, leg bands, left shoulder piece)
  • Samnites (Heavy splendid armour, large rectangle shieldm vizored helmet with crest & plumes)

Before fight: night before - cena libera, before show - gladiators paraded around arena and if emperor present, saluted him.

Matches were accompanied by musicians playing flutes, trumpets, and horns. If death, slave dressed as god of underworld dragged body out of arena after knocking him on the head with mallet to ensure he was dead.

Life or death appeal: audience vote, thumbs up to kill, thumbs down to save (brave or popular).

Wooden sword: symbol of freedom, but some gladiators signed on again, if they weren't gladiators, their status would be low. As gladiators, they were often idolised.

Attitudes: Inhumane. Exciting. Form of cleansing. Form of winning votes and popularity.

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