Cities of Vesuvius: Pompeii and Herculaneum


Welcome to the Core Study for the HSC.  This study is on the Cities of Vesuvius: Pompeii and Herculaneum.

This blog has been put together to assist you with your revision of key content for this topic and is to be used in conjunction with your class notes.

The focus of our core study will be to investigate the range and nature of archaeological and written sources available for the study of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum through an exploration of issues relating to reconstruction, ownership and custodianship of the past.

Our syllabus requires us to work through the following dot points.

Non-examinable background

stages of occupation

brief historical overview up to and including the eruption of AD 79

early discoveries and brief history of the excavations

representations of Pompeii and Herculaneum over time

Examinable content:

1. Geographical context

the physical environment: the geographical setting, natural features and resources of Pompeii and Herculaneum

plans and streetscapes of Pompeii and Herculaneum

2. The nature of sources and evidence

the range of available sources, both written and archaeological, including ancient

writers, official inscriptions, graffiti, wall paintings, statues, mosaics, human and animal remains

the limitations, reliability and evaluation of sources

the evidence provided by the sources from Pompeii and Herculaneum for:

– the eruption

– the economy: trade, commerce, industries, occupations

– social structure; men, women, freedmen, slaves

– local political life

– everyday life: leisure activities, food and dining, clothing, health, baths, water supply and sanitation

– public buildings – basilicas, temples, fora, theatres, palaestra, amphitheatres

– private buildings – villas, houses, shops

– influence of Greek and Egyptian cultures: art, architecture, religion

– religion: temples, household gods, foreign cults, tombs.

3. Investigating, reconstructing and preserving the past

changing methods and contributions of nineteenth and twentieth century

archaeologists to our understanding of Pompeii and Herculaneum

changing interpretations: impact of new research and technologies

issues of conservation and reconstruction: Italian and international contributions and responsibilities; impact of tourism

ethical issues: study and display of human remains


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