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June 11: Pompeii August 3, 2010

Posted by msmith78 in Uncategorized.

There are two walls of the city that represent two phases of city building and construction; the first wall surrounds the old inner city which is irregular in layout while the second wall host the later grid city of the Roman times.  The city dates back to the about the 6th or 7th century BC when the Etruscans and Greeks inhabited the area where the Samnites or kin to the Latins lived.

The city in itself was not an important Roman city, but it is the look it gives us of there time period preserved by the ash of Vesivius that makes it famous. Mount Vesuivius cause two types of damage: ash as seen in Pompeii and lava as in Herculaneum. The Romans oversaw this area at first, but in 80BC they asked for complete independence and the Romans under emperor Sula stepped in and redistributed the land to maintain control.


The forum is the Roman equivalent of the agora; it was the market place, administrative center, and religious core of city. Forum means “to look”, and it was the place to see goods and be seen. The forum in Pompeii dates back to the 5th or 6th century BC, and it was the major Samnite administrative center. The surviving structure is the Roman version. It is north-south oriented with the dominating part of the view being Vescuvius. All of the entities radiated around the central space surrounded by a double colonnade.

Temple of Jupitor Capilinos and Temple of Apollo

Temples were an integral part of the. The temple of Jupiter as a frontal, axial, and hexistyle it is very Roman in nature. The temple of Apollo with its peristyle was a Greco-Etruscan influenced structure it is also not aligned with the forum directly which shows it has a history established before the Romans, but the axiality of the alter in front shows the Roman influence. It is enclosed within boundaries to delineate its sacred space.


The southern part of the forum was comprised of administrative buildings including the basilica or law court. It is basically a long building with three colonnades and two and two apse. The lawyers and their clients would meet along the stoas and then appear before the magistrates in the apses. There were parts to entering the basilica first the forum, then the portico, and then the court proper. The central colonnades were taller then the outer walls which allowed for a variation in form from the Greek temple to allow for light to enter. The different colonnades and heights also made the major and minor axis much more defined.

1st Style of Fresco

The walls of the basilica show the first style of fresco work. It is an imitation of stone blocks, and it is very thick and carved to show the stone seams.

Eumachia Building

This was the home of the wool guild in Pompeii, which was a huge industry in the area. It was an open courtyard around which business radiated.  It was also an important bathroom for the forum because the urine was kept and used for dying purposes.


The Romans were constantly searching for a sense of identity and they associated themselves with the Greeks in the Trojan wars as well as other eastern traditions inclined the idea of a cult of the emperor or the idea of treating a ruler like a god. This area, the principate, honored the emperor who was not so much worshipped as respected the way the flag is respected today.


Included the statue of a god on access looking over the market and also many fish bones from the fish market. It is even believed that they had water storage tanks for the fish.

Forum Baths

To enter the baths, you had to pay a small entrance fee and people who could afford it bathed everyday. The men and women had separate bathing areas that were part of the same complex and water system, but completely separate in traffic flow from the men’s side.  First the bathers would enter the Opatarium, the changing room or locker room, where they would either disrobe completely or enough to be comfortable to go work out in the Palestra. Their slaves would sit and watch their clothes in the Opatarium. After the working out in the Palestra they would return to disrobe entirely in the Opatarium if they did not work out in the nude before heading to the Tempadarium or the warm room, but they had sandals on because the floor was too hot to walk on in the Caldarium. Next they would move onto the Caldarium or the hot room before they finished in the Frigedarium or the cold room. The rooms were heated through a system of pipes and water that were heated with wood fires. There were water basins for the people in the hot rooms to cool off a little bit.

House of Mensa

This was an upper class home or domos, and they share similar features of the Megaron. The first part of the house entered from the street was the Fafcius. The atrium was the main central room that had a rectangular opening called the compluvium in the middle to let in light and collect water in a pool in the middle of the floor that would feed to a cistern or other water supply to be used for the garden, cleaning, or other needs around the house.  The compluvium did not create a courtyard because the ratio of the roofed to unroofed space was two great; it was more of an oculus. There were two types of roofs to accommodate for the central hole the impluviade roof which sloped towards the center and the displuviade roof which sloped towards the corners. The impluviade reflected and collected more light so it was established as the primary style.

The rooms radiating around the atrium were the cudibula. The back room on the central axis was the tablume or the roof  were the Pater Familius completed all of his business and had his study.  In the 1st Style of Roman house,  the garden was completely private unlike the very public and business oriented atrium and tablume. The garden would have some fruit or vegetables and space for the children to play. The trigluem was a private space where eating was done would have a view of the garden usually. It had benches on three sides for reclining and eating. This house was converted into a hotel when the upper class family moved probably due to the fear of a second disaster similar to the first earthquake in the area.

House of Pansa

This house was built a hundred years after the house of Mensa. The space does not end with the trableneum, but instead there is no wall behind the tableneum, which opens up the atrium to the garden as a showcase of the families wealth. The garden is therefore not not the simple fruit trees or children playing; the 3rd style of house is complete with a formal garden with a peristyle and elaborate landscaping, and for this house in particular there is a pool in the middle of the peristyle. The division between public and private space is therefore negated, and there is a need for the private family space which means a third garden. The alea was a subspace that was on the sides of the tablume. Tablume in the Second Style of Roman house had a window that you could see the family garden behind; like this house it would have beautiful landscaping with a peristyle around it.

Duirng the 10-20 AD in the early participate, immigrants with lots of money were moving in and building homes with series of multiple gardens to show their wealth like a string of beads. These were summer residences for the Roman world with a few being for the local aristocracy which explains why Pompeii was not important in Roman times but provides such a wealth of discovery today. Two brothers who bought their freedom went on to buy this house and make it very lavish using the model of the 3rd style, but for the veneer work they used the 1st style to evoke a past and visually solidify there position in the aristocracy.

The mosaic work depicts the battle between Area and Alexander the Great. It is a Roman mosaic based on a famous Greek painting that has been lost, and now our only look into Greek painting is these sorts of replicas. It is a complex composition with over 100 figures, a difficult piece perspective with Darius turned to flee on his horse, and a detailed piece with the face of a fallen solider reflected in his shield.


This was a restaurant found along the street among the shops. The owners would either live above or behind there shop or thermopion. The thermopions have big counters with large basins built into them for storing food.

Triangular Forum

This was the leisure section of town for entertainment that was that was added later to the city. The Romans brought an Odeion, theater, temple, and theater which date from the early principate. The theater is an artificial theater that was raised from the ground entirely unlike its Greek counterpart.

Temple of Isis

The Romans were fascinated with eastern influences including the Egyptians. During the seventeen years between the earthquake and the volcano, different things were repaired around the city. Looking at what was repaired helps us to see what was important to the running of the city and what was important to the culture. As one would expect the infrastructural features like the water and the roads were repaired, but this temple of Isis was also among the things repaired whereas Jupiter Capitalinus was not. Not only was this temple repaired but it was made better then it was before the earthquake.

Villa of Mysteries

This is an irregularly shaped Roman House on the edge of town with beautiful property, but the shape of it has been the source of trajectory and study since its discovery.


Hermes was the god of the streets so his face was on all of the Road markers and the fountains in the streets. The sidewalks were elevated above the street and there are stone steps across the street for people to cross the street when it was being cleaned, and it was usually washed down once a day. The steps were spaces apart so that wheels are carriages and carts could fit through.  The streets were organized into the cardo and the decumanus.


The efficiency of the Romans and the level of vision within their work was made apparent today with the gate attached to the Temple of Jupiter in the forum; The stone work suggests that were build in tandem on purpose, just showing the foresight required for the project. Looking at a map of Sorrento I was blown away by the number of churches in the area. It reminds me of the north eastern United States before the consolidation efforts made in the seventies and eighties. Cities like Pittsburgh had separate ethnic neighborhoods for the immigrants, and each neighborhood had their own church. These churches were eventually consolidated as the number of Catholics decreased and the feasibility of maintaining all of these churches declined. There was a lot of history lost with the closing of those churches because many were unfortunately not maintained. Hopefully the church will be able to maintain these churches here; although, in France the government has taken control of the preservation of the churches which meant some were kept and some are in threat of destruction.



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