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Ancient History Essay

New research has immensely impacted on our understanding of daily life in both Pompeii and Herculaneum. Experts in archaeology, science and other fields have revealed copious amounts of information about people, buildings and food found in the two cities prior to the eruption in 62 AD. Experts such as Estelle Lazer and Sarah Bisel have assisted in heightening our understanding of the daily life in Pompeii and Herculaneum. From 1986 Estelle Lazer worked on a sample of over 300 individuals who were represented by a collection of disarticulated bone.

The techniques of forensic medicine and physical anthropology were used to determine sex, age-at-death, height, signs of disease and population affinities of the victims. The results indicated that almost equal numbers of males and females from all age groups did not manage to escape the town before it was destroyed. Sarah Bisel worked with the bone analysis of the skeletons of Herculaneum to determine and study the lifestyle differences between the social classes present within Herculaneum.

She discovered many things about the people of Herculaneum such as the town was a genetically diverse society, children were often malnourished due to the lack of calcium in their teeth and the bodies had high levels of lead. This new information has majorly effected and broadened our understanding of daily life in Pompeii and Herculaneum. The evidence of food in the two towns and the study of these by experts such as Wilhelmina Jashemski and the team of principal researchers known as the Pompeii Food and Drink Project, further develop our knowledge of daily life in these famous towns of Campania.

Jashemski’s project had the purpose of studying animal and plant remains in order to gain an understanding of the kinds of gardens in and around Pompeii as well as gathering information on the wine and oil industries of the area. By examining soil contours and carbonised plant remains, archaeologists have gained a more accurate picture of produce and ornamental gardens in Pompeii. The purpose of the Pompeii Food and Drink Project was to analyse the patterns of daily life in a non-invasive way to study the structures that are associated with food and drink.

The Project has collected many ancient artefacts and information, and answered many questions about the food and drink storage, distribution, preparation, serving, and consumption in Ancient Pompeii. All these sources combine to give us a more acute knowledge of the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The buildings found in Pompeii and Herculaneum provide extensive information about the lifestyle of people living there. The House of Pompeii Project, started in 1977, had the focus of investigating and salvaging buildings which had been excavated in previous years but had not necessarily been recorded.

The two houses that were particularly studied was the House of the Ancient Hunt and the House of the Coloured Capitals. The Project has not uncovered any new information, only recorded findings on certain housing which were either not properly recorded or completely ignored. The Insula of Menander Project had much the same aim as the House of Pompeii Project, in that they were redressing the deficiencies in earlier records. Their main focus, though, was the insula conducted under Amedeo Maiuri.

The Project provided a detailed history of the insula showing that there had been frequent building changes over time and that there appeared to be a late appearance of shops and the addition of upper storeys in the last years of the city. The Pompeian Forum Project’s main objective was to produce more accurate plans of surviving remains by the use of architectural analysis to widen the understanding of contemporary urban problems.

The traditional view that the Forum was a ‘builder’s yard’ after the 62 AD earthquake was disproved. There was also evidence found of a comprehensive earthquake plan for the Eastern side of the Forum. In Source A we can see how new research has amplified our knowledge of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Through research by Italy’s National Institute of Optics, it has been discovered that the famous ‘Pompeian red’ was a colour created from the mixture of yellow paint and the gases from Vesuvius.

In conclusion, the impacts of new research and technologies have considerably expatiated our enlightenment of the daily life in Pompeii and Herculaneum. The many sources uncovered and analysed from these towns have been much more useful as a result of developing technology and research. In the years to come, technology will continue to develop, along with more information being discovered and this will result in more and more information being provided about the famous ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.


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