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As Pompeii Crumbles

THE FINAL DAY

Many wealthy Romans found the landscape and soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius remarkable. Pompeii, a lively city within the Roman Empire, lay southeast of Vesuvius and was fairly densely populated.

Mt_Vesuvius_79_AD_eruption_3.svg

Mt Vesuvius 79 AD eruption

Somewhere around the neighborhood of twelve thousand people took up residence in the plentiful city. Although they knew that Mount Vesuvius was a volcano and not a mountain, they “thought it was extinct” (Moser & Gilman, p. 9). However, around midday on August 24th in AD 79, the volcano erupted. A column of debris, ash and smoke plumed upward and “reach[ed] a height of some 30 kilometers, making it visible for many miles around” (Moser & Gilman, p. 9). This stage of ash and debris was later called the Plinian Stage. “Ash and various sizes of rocks and pumice stones were ejected along with hot gases and water vapor at a rate of 1,200 kilometers an hour…” (Moser & Gilman, p. 9).800px-Karl_Brullov_-_The_Last_Day_of_Pompeii_-_Google_Art_Project

The Last Day of Pompeii

THE UNCOVERING OF POMPEII

            Pompeii was found in the eighteenth century. A man by the name of Alcubierre found remains of a temple which he believed to be “the remains of Stabiae. It was not until 1763 that the excavators found inscriptions proving that these ruins belonged to the most famous of Vesuvius’ victims- Pompeii” (Stiebing, p. 150). Finding very minimal artifacts, Alcubierre and his group of men grew discouraged and returned to Herculaneum. However, he would not have done this if he would have known that the villas he had excavated lay on the far outskirts of the city.

He teamed up with a Swiss architect named Karl Weber who ended up finding a vast villa at the site of Herculaneum as well as many sculptures, paintings, and interesting ruins. This place was found because “in 1750 a peasant brought word that another well had uncovered an ancient pavement near the Augustinian Monastery” (Stiebing, p. 150). Inside what must have been a study, charcoal briquettes or logs were found. Most of these, once they were opened, were more philosophical works such as works of Philodemus and treatises by Epicurus. When Torre Annunziata (Pompeii) was finally understood to be the ancient city in 1763, all focus zoned in on the site. After all of the valuables had been taken, the uncovered portion was refilled with soil.

In 1860 Giuseppe Fiorelli was “appointed to be the director of excavations for Pompeii” and decided that the portions of the city that had been previously excavated and then refilled should be uncovered. From 1860 to today, excavations have focused on the streets of Pompeii and entering houses through the street level (Stiebing, p. 160). By digging this way, the city is getting fully uncovered one street block at a time.

POMPEII – THE DOOR TO ANCIENT HISTORY

These houses that were uncovered have been huge eye-openers towards the daily life of Pompeii’s ancient citizens. Whole villas have been uncovered and have shown how life worked back in 79 AD. I have heard that this eruption caught people so unawares what there is still food on the tables. This is great for us because we can know exactly what kind of food was consumed without having to make an educated guess based on plant or food residues. Each room that is excavated uncovers more of ancient life.

TABERNAS

800px-Casa_con_taberna_I.6.9._1

Casa con taberna

Before walking inside a villa’s street level doors, the first thing you would see was the shops. These “tabernas” were sometimes on the fascade of the homes. “Around eight hundred tabernae have been identified in the excavated area of Pompeii…” (Holleran, p. 112). Holleran also talks about how there were four different categories of shops- one being that the tabernae was “found in the front of atrium houses” (Holleran, 2012).

ATRIUM

Atrium_of_the_House_of_the_Menander_(Reg_I),_Pompeii_(14978497650)

Atrium of the House of the Menander

            The atrum is the first room you would see when you enter a villa’s doors. This place was mainly a “show-piece for visitors” (Foss & Dobbins, 2009) while a secondary atrium was probably used for more private meetings or family gatherings. “The atrium was normally covered by a roof which sloped inwards. The rain water ran down towards the centre…” (Connolly, 1990) where there was a hole to drip into a pool. This small pool was called the impluvium and is shown in the center of the atrium in the picture above. The atrium was surrounded by other rooms and was the center of receiving guests.

TABLINIUM

The_Tablinium_facing_the_Atrium,_decorated_in_the_4th_Pompeii_style,_Pompejanum,_idealized_replica_of_a_Roman_villa,_Aschaffenburg,_Germany_(14185414039)

The Tablinium facing the Atrium, decorated in the 4th Pompeii style

            Many people began to call on the wealthier people early in the morning. At six, they would all be ushered into the atrium and wait as each was called to be received by the master of the villa inside the tablinium. This small room “was at the back of the atrium… often completely open at the front divided from the atrium only by curtains or wooden screens” (Connolly, p. 34). Many times, if the room had wooden screens, there would still be big openings such as windows which opened up to the gardens on the other side.

TRICLINIUM

640px-Reconstructed_Roman_dining_room_in_the_Painting_House-2

Reconstructed Roman dining room in the Painting House

            The triclinium was another important room. Otherwise known as the dining room, the triclinium was very different from what we associate to be a dining room. “Romans reclined on couches leaning on their left elbows and eating with their right hands. The arrangements of a Roman dining room was very formal. It consisted of three large sloping couches covered with cushions…” (Connolly, p. 38). It was these three couches that surrounded a table of food. Most times these dining rooms were used during the winter. During summer seasons, the Roman people would “dine in the garden or in a room opening onto the garden” (Connolly, p. 38).

PERISTYLE

The_peristyle_of_the_House_of_Menander_(Regio_I),_Pompeii_(15165295152)

The peristyle of the House of Menander

            The peristyle surrounded a garden. Rooms opened up to this area which shows that “If the traditional pattern was a group of rooms around an atrium court, with a golden plot behind, the colonnades of the peristyle initially serve to give luxury and magnificence to the garden plot” (Foss & Dobbins, p. 287). The oldest villas, or earliest style in Pompeii had this place towards the back of the house as basically an add-on when peristyles became popular. The Hellenistic style came about and became another atrium. This is because every room began to open up on the sides of the peristyle and gardens instead of the atrium within the villa. When this new style came about, they decided to put gardens inside the peristyle “instead of leaving it as a beaten clay court or paving it with cobblestones, cement, or mosaics…” (Jashemski & Meyer, p. 15)

CUCINA

1024px-Pompeii0070

Pompeii0070

            The Cucina rarely had more than a sink and a brick oven. Many pots have been found in the remains of Pompeii. This gives fascinating insight on the types of cookware Roman citizens had during that time period. One kitchen that was excavated showed that “Lunch was being prepared for the staff when the eruption came. The cook fled leaving a pot still on the boil. Other cooking utensils were found hanging on the wall or resting on the side of the oven ready to use… at [another] house in Herculaneum bread, salad, eggs, cake, and fruit were found on the table preserved by the sea of mud that engulfed the town” (Connolly, p. 36 & 38).

THERMOPOLIUM

Thermopolium_(7238566532)

Thermopolium

            Another place where food could be found was outside in a thermopolium. This place was the “fast-food joint” of Pompeii. “The embedded vessels had hot or cold food. Many street corners had these, sort of like McDonald’s, and just as in big cities today, many people bought a lot of their meals there. A lot of homes didn’t even have kitchens” (Description of the thermopolim picture on Wikimedia Commons).

Bibliography

Connolly, P. (1990). Pompeii. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Foss, P., & Dobbins, J. J. (2009). The World of Pompeii. Routledge.

Holleran, C. (2012). Shopping in Ancient Rome: The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and the Principate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jashemski, W. F., & Meyer, F. G. (2002). The Natural History of Pompeii. Cambridge University Press.

Moser, B., & Gilman, B. (2007). Ashen Sky: The Letters of Pliny the Younger on the Eruption of Vesuvius. Getty Publications.

Stiebing, W. H. (1993). Uncovering the Past: A History of Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

IMAGES

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Class Systems Under Alexander the Great

 Battleofissus333BC-mosaic

Battle of Issus

Alexander overthrew Darius III as king of Persia in 333 BC and, therefore, became king of Persia. Dominating almost every country in the known world, Alexander the Great lived up to his name and was the ultimate king- the conqueror of the time.  People lived their lives while he acquired country after country. Power struggles and class systems always seem to begin when a civilization starts to establish itself. It was already apparent when Alexander took the throne but was an important part of the people and society. Usually the establishment of a new group of people involves the break off from one civilization, resulting in the creation of another. “He had planned to create a ruling class by intermarriage of Macedonian and Persian nobles. He himself married foreign, Roxanne of Bacteria and later a Persian princess” (Marx).

There were two distinct groups within Persian society while Alexander ruled: the upper and lower classes. Although “Macedon was a male-dominated society, the queens and royal mothers were greatly respected” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80)

Alexander_The_Greate_and_Roxane_by_Rotari_1756

Alexander The Greate and Roxane

This respect was shown because they came from wealthy families and would be the ones to produce the next heir to the throne. Struggle for power occurred regularly between the queen, the king’s mother, and even his advisors.

The king, aristocracy, and religious priests made up the upper class. Most of the aristocracy within the upper class was in command of the army as generals or in the cavalry. Their preferred interests were “fighting, hunting, and heavy drinking. The king could only gain respect from the nobility if he was an expert in all these activities” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80). Alexander loved to hunt and ended up heading a huge army with an enormous camp of followers trailing behind him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alexander with the Spear

Although the spear is long gone, this statue shows the “conqueror” part in Alexander’s title. He was a true Macedonian and king of Persia. His love for fighting proved correct when he led his men into India and other countries ultimately conquering what was seen as the “world”.

The lower class lived very different lives from upper society. Most of these people were workers or laborers. “Freemen got paid and could choose where they worked. Bondsmen were serfs and slaves, and had little or no choice about where and for whom they worked” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80).

There was somewhat of a middle class also. “Hoplites are most often associated with Greek city-states and by-and-large represent these communities’ middle class. Typically these heavy infantrymen were to supply their own equipment, the round, three-foot in diameter shield, the seven-to-eight-foot stabbing spear, grieves, and breastplate, since the cities themselves were seldom wealthy enough to do so” (Anson 18). It seems that a lot of this middle class was made up of soldiers. Therefore, within the cities and society, there was a huge distinction between high and low class and somewhere in the middle were the soldiers.

Works Cited

Anson, E. M. (2013). Alexander the Great: Themes and Issues. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Marx, I. (1997-2000). Empire of Alexander the Great – Expansion into Asia and Central Asia. Retrieved 04 24, 2015, from Silk-Road: http://www.silk-road.com/artl/alex.shtml

(2009). Part II: Society and Culture. In D. Skelton, & P. Dell, Empire of Alexander the Great. New York: Chelsea House.

IMAGES

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Women’s Fashion in the Roman World

Throughout time, clothing has morphed from a sole necessity of survival to a luxury of status. Fashion has defined individual groups of people and put a significant barrier between classes such as nobles and slaves. Several other groups can be ranked through what they wear and how they conduct themselves.

The Roman people loved their material possessions. In fact, there were several types of merchants that came from all over the known world to bring exotic things to the wealthy class. These exotic things could have been part of the cause for that significant barrier clearly observed between wealthy and deprived.

535px-Roman_toga_diagram.svg

Roman toga diagram

Stolas and togas were mainly worn as the basic form of clothing for the Roman people. Depending on your status, you either added to or took away that basic form.

Ancient_Times,_Roman._-_018_-_Costumes_of_All_Nations_(1882)

Ancient Times, Roman- Costumes of All Nations

Women, as well as men, used clothing as a marker of money and rank. Their class could be picked out just from looking at what they were wearing. “Widows were usually distinguished from wives, and the ‘mothers of the family’ from other matrons… Not only veils but also the other garments of women served as indicators of their status and social function” (Sebesta 46). Clothing, whether it was the dye used to color the cloth or how much layering was done, could change how the public saw individuals. Being adorned was very important for women of that era and. As Livy said, “elegance, and ornamentation, and care of the self- these are the insignia of women, in these they delight and glory; this our ancestors called ‘women’s world’” (Olson 7). Women with colorful stolas and brooches were normally on the wealthier side. “Poorer women made do with coarse brown or gray cloth, fastened with a treasured brooch or pin” (Williams 24)

Jewlery and ornamentation was also used to show status. We have seen glimpses of this while looking at evidences in Pompeii. “As Rome’s empire grew richer, ordinary people could afford gold rings, and rich people wore rings that were truly massive. Some rings bore their owner’s name” (Williams 26). Roman women also received engagement rings when they were betrothed to be married. “An engagement ring was often made of iron, so that only its jewel gave it material value; but we know that there were rings of gold because it is said that sometimes on engagement ring was the first bit of gold jewelry a girl possessed” (http://www.classicsunveiled.com/romel/html/clothwomen.html).

Puella Inguena, a Freeborn girl, would wear a toga praetexta and had braided hair tied with a vita, luna. A toga praetexta was also worn by freeborn boys and could have just been what brothers and sisters alike wore as day-to-day clothing. This kind of toga, as seen in this portrait of a child, was based from an “adult male’s but had a narrow, reddish purple woven border along one long edge” (Sebesta 46).

Meisje100

Meisje100

An adulteress or Adultera “was not permitted to wear the stola and vittae. Instead, according to custom, the woman divorced of promiscuity wore a plain toga. The symbolism behind the assumption of the toga would seem not to be that the woman had assumed the sexual freedom allowed males, but that she ahd lost her status and role as a sexually mature woman in Roman Society” (Sebesta 50).

Viduas (widow) possibly wore a ricinium, stola, and vittae. The ricinium was for everyday wear for women- the equal to a men’s toga. As time passed, the ricinium, now a dark colored material made out of wool, was used as a sign of mourning.

Works Cited

  • Olson, K. (2008). Dress and the Roman Woman: Self-Presentation and Society. New York: Routledge.
  • Sebesta, J. L. (2001). Symbolism of the Costume of the Roman Woman. In J. L. Sebesta, & L. Bonfante, The World of Roman Costume (pp. 46-53). Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Williams, B. (2003). Ancient Roman Women. Chicago: Reed Educational & Professional Publishing.

PICTURES

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Women’s Fashion in the Roman World

Throughout time, clothing has morphed from a sole necessity of survival to a luxury of status. Fashion has defined individual groups of people and put a significant barrier between classes such as nobles and slaves. Several other groups can be ranked through what they wear and how they conduct themselves.

The Roman people loved their material possessions. In fact, there were several types of merchants that came from all over the known world to bring exotic things to the wealthy class. These exotic things could have been part of the cause for that significant barrier clearly observed between wealthy and deprived.

535px-Roman_toga_diagram.svg

Roman toga diagram

Stolas and togas were mainly worn as the basic form of clothing for the Roman people. Depending on your status, you either added to or took away that basic form.

Ancient_Times,_Roman._-_018_-_Costumes_of_All_Nations_(1882)

Ancient Times, Roman- Costumes of All Nations

Women, as well as men, used clothing as a marker of money and rank. Their class could be picked out just from looking at what they were wearing. “Widows were usually distinguished from wives, and the ‘mothers of the family’ from other matrons… Not only veils but also the other garments of women served as indicators of their status and social function” (Sebesta 46). Clothing, whether it was the dye used to color the cloth or how much layering was done, could change how the public saw individuals.

Puella Inguena, a Freeborn girl, would wear a toga praetexta and had braided hair tied with a vita, luna. A toga praetexta was also worn by freeborn boys and could have just been what brothers and sisters alike wore as day-to-day clothing. This kind of toga, as seen in this portrait of a child, was based from an “adult male’s but had a narrow, reddish purple woven border along one long edge” (Sebesta 46).

Meisje100

Meisje100

An adulteress or Adultera “was not permitted to wear the stola and vittae. Instead, according to custom, the woman divorced of promiscuity wore a plain toga. The symbolism behind the assumption of the toga would seem not to be that the woman had assumed the sexual freedom allowed males, but that she ahd lost her status and role as a sexually mature woman in Roman Society” (Sebesta 50).

Viduas (widow) possibly wore a ricinium, stola, and vittae. The ricinium was for everyday wear for women- the equal to a men’s toga. As time passed, the ricinium, now a dark colored material made out of wool, was used as a sign of mourning.

WORKS CITED

Sebesta, J. L. (2001). Symbolism of the Costume of the Roman Woman. In J. L. Sebesta, & L. Bonfante, The World of Roman Costume (pp. 46-53). Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

PICTURES

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Class Systems Under Alexander the Great

Battleofissus333BC-mosaic

Battle of Issus

Alexander overthrew Darius III as king of Persia in 333 BC and, therefore, became king of Persia. Dominating almost every country in the known world, Alexander the Great lived up to his name and was the ultimate king- the conqueror of the time.  People lived their lives while he acquired country after country. Power struggles and class systems always seem to begin when a civilization starts to establish itself. It was already apparent when Alexander took the throne but was an important part of the people and society. Usually the establishment of a new group of people involves the break off from one civilization, resulting in the creation of another.

There were two distinct groups within Persian society while Alexander ruled: the upper and lower classes. Although “Macedon was a male-dominated society, the queens and royal mothers were greatly respected” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80)

Alexander_The_Greate_and_Roxane_by_Rotari_1756

Alexander The Greate and Roxane

This respect was shown because they came from wealthy families and would be the ones to produce the next heir to the throne. Struggle for power occurred regularly between the queen, the king’s mother, and even his advisors.

The king, aristocracy, and religious priests made up the upper class. Most of the aristocracy within the upper class was in command of the army as generals or in the cavalry. Their preferred interests were “fighting, hunting, and heavy drinking. The king could only gain respect from the nobility if he was an expert in all these activities” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80). Alexander loved to hunt and ended up heading a huge army with an enormous camp of followers trailing behind him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alexander with the Spear

Although the spear is long gone, this statue shows the “conqueror” part in Alexander’s title. He was a true Macedonian and king of Persia. His love for fighting proved correct when he led his men into India and other countries ultimately conquering what was seen as the “world”.

The lower class lived very different lives from upper society. Most of these people were workers or laborers. “Freemen got paid and could choose where they worked. Bondsmen were serfs and slaves, and had little or no choice about where and for whom they worked” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80).

Works Cited

(2009). Part II: Society and Culture. In D. Skelton, & P. Dell, Empire of Alexander the Great. New York: Chelsea House.

IMAGES

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Imhotep: One of the most influential physicians in Ancient Egypt

Doctors have been essential in society for centuries upon centuries. Whether or not they were knowledgeable in medicine and on the subject of the body through modern contraptions, or saw illness as the requirement for spiritual purification, physicians have been looked upon as crucial healers within the public eye.

IMHOTEP

“Imhotep, the vizer and physician of King Zoser.”

IMHOTEP

One very important historical physician, Imhotep, lived during the Pyramid Age in ancient Egypt (Worrall, 504). Before this genius, physicians tended to lean towards the spiritual or magical.

IMHOTEP1

“Page from Edwin Smith surgical papyrus”

However, Imhotep “was the author of a medical treatise remarkable for being devoid of magical thinking: the so-called Edwin Smith papyrus containing anatomical observations, ailments, and cures” (Wikipedia). Many of the ailments on the papyrus included:

27 head injuries (cases #1-27)

6 throat and neck injuries (cases #28-33)

2 injuries to the clavicle (collarbone) (cases #34-35)

3 injuries to the arm (cases #36-38)

8 injuries to the sternum (breastbone) and ribs (cases #39-44)

1 tumour and 1 abscess of the breast (cases #45-46)

1 injury to the shoulder (case #47)

1 injury to the spine (case #48) (Wikipedia)

After him, many other Egyptian physicians “examined [their] patient by inspection, palpitation, and smell (Worrall, 504). There are several statues depicting this man, who eventually became known as a god in Egypt. The one shown resides in the Louvre Museum. However, this statue is one out of three that have the same pose.

IMHOTEP2

“Imhotep”

One of the other statues identical to this one that is pictured dwells in the Princeton Art Museum. This allows visitors to come and observe what this amazing man may have looked like. It is interesting to note that several figures depicting Imhotep are dressed in the same type of attire which includes a tight cap, a wide collar which was set upon the shoulders and along the chest, and a pleated skirt almost reaching his ankles (Turnure, 25-26). This may, in fact, be an excellent example of how important men in the ancient time periods of Egypt dressed.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Imhotep. (n.d.). Retrieved 03 08, 2015, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imhotep

Turnure, J. H. (1952). A Statuette of Imhotep. Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University, 11(2), 25-26.

Worrall, G. (1967). Without Prejudice. British Medical Journal, 2(5550), 504.

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Why I chose a username about Pompeii

I chose my username because I think that Pompeii is absolutely fascinating. It’s cool to see a place that where time has literally stopped. Food is on the table, paintings on walls. It shows what life was like because these things have not been moved or touched since and they are “seared” in history forever.

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