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Pompeii: Some primary sources for pompeii Essay

Temple of Jupiter

At the northern side of the Forum is the Temple of Jupiter. Built in 150 B.C it was Pompeii’s main temple. A Capitolium in structure and in pure Italic style, the temple was constructed on a high base, with a double flight of stairs at its front. Inside the temple lay the “cella”, accessible only to the priests, and which contained three stands at its far end. Theses stands were occupied by statues of Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva. In 62 C.E., the temple was seriously damaged in an earthquake, and was in the process of being repaired until Mt Vesuvius erupted. In this physical source some problems such as the earthquake and the volcanic eruption had damaged the temple which could have destroyed some of the important things the temple and priests would have done regarding the worship of the gods. The information this temple provides is what and how did the people of Pompeii worshipped their gods and how sacrifices were performed by the priest. These things would help us understand the gods and worship as well as how religion affected everyday life of the Pompeians. Being physical remains from the ancient city it would be referred as a reliable source to work off.

Temple of Isis

The temple of Isis is located at the north-west part of the city. This cult originated in Egypt these physical remains of the temple were the best surviving out of the cities remains after the eruption. These rooms show the wall paintings removed from the temple of Isis in Pompeii in the years 1764-66. Their style is typical of the Hellenistic-Roman artistic tradition, but they include many elements of the cult of Isis and Nile valley culture. Also on display are all the artefacts found in the temple: sculptures in marble, bronze and terracotta, inscriptions and a variety of objects used during worship. With these paintings we learn about religious art and the worship of Isis as a god possessions of the priest were also found this helps us understand what the priest does within the temple.

The renovation after the 62 A.D earthquake was financed by a freed slave in the name of his young son. There may have been political motivations for this since freed slaves were not allowed to hold public office, and the son who was appointed as a member of the city council was only six years old we know this because of an inscription on the temple after it was rebuilt. The Temple has a mixture of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architectural features. The problems with the source are that some or the artefacts were stolen out of temple which leaves us less to learn from them also after the eruption certain parts of the building might have been destroyed.

The Via Nucerina Necropolis

There were cemeteries located outside every gate of Pompeii. This certain gate was found outside the Nucerian gate. This was one of the popular necropolises. From excavations we learn about how people were past on to the afterlife and how they were buried/cremated. The necropolis had 189 graffiti painted and scratched onto its tombs, which reveal it to have been a densely trafficked area. Graffiti from the necropolis have at times been used to reconstruct the nature of daily life, the 189 texts provide a rare glimpse of life beyond the walls, and demonstrate that this cemetery was itself a distinct neighbourhood, though one joined with the city itself.

And, just as the walls of houses in the city were often covered with graffiti, so too were these houses of the dead, indicating that the exterior facades of private tombs, like those of domestic residences, were treated as public space. The problems with this source are that the graffiti often covers the epitaphs of the deceased which interfere with the interpretation of the tomb. There also destroyed tombs from the eruption but the majority of tombs survived. Another problem is the looting of the cemetary. The usefulness of this necropolis is very reliable to learn burial practices of the Pompeians and of the times.

Mausoleum of a wealthy family

This was found in the Herculaneum necropolis it has a roman architecture with paintings within its walls (not seen in picture) this was a large building with a Greek influence. There were 13 coffins found and 2 urns. The coffins had elaborate drawings and inscriptions on them the coffins. The coffins were made out of marble this provides us with an understanding of how family tombs are in the first century and how coffins were made. We also learn about the family and what they did within the city. This tomb was close to the road for people to admire as they entered the city.

The problems with this source are the inscriptions on the coffins and walls are bias towards the family which expressed the graciousness and wealth of the family. Another problem is of the poor handling of this mausoleum through tourists and the running of Pompeii has damaged the building in some places. There are also problems with looting and theft from the tomb. While we are learning about the family we must remember it is to show off the social status of the family the paintings would give us a picture of everyday life and of burial practices but reliability of the inscriptions might be hard because of bias and propaganda but we can get a great deal from this it would be useful as to see how the wealthy were buried or cremated.

Gaius Plinius Secundus- A.K.A Pliny the elder

Roman author who wrote natural history this is his primary work and only one that exists today. In this book Pliny gives us a detailed response on religion and burial he wrote this in natural history. He tells us about human sacrifice and how the Romans had that the practice of human sacrifice had become un-Roman they believed they were more sophisticated than other barbarians. Then animal sacrifice took over human sacrifice. Aspects of gladiatorial contests and early Roman law also point to an earlier time when human sacrifice was practiced. Gladiatorial contests were first introduced in Rome in 264 B.C these were held in honour of the dead, originally as a religious pageant. The participants originally entered these contests voluntarily, enacting a mythical struggle, and rarely ending in death.

The death of gladiators in a religious context held the aspect of being a sacrifice to the Manes on behalf of the deceased. The Etruscans were credited by the Romans for introducing gladiatorial contests to Rome. He also explains the ritual of cremation, how they cremate the body and then bury it under the ground build a tomb in which people could see who it was. He also tells us that children were separated from the adults in the necropolis as a cultural ritual and a cultural context for roman children. The problems with this source is it is one mans opinion and can be found bias towards the Roman society and it also might have been misinterpreted because the book was found 32 years after his death. This book would be a great would be very useful to find out religious and burial practices he writes lots about these things it would be quite reliable but can be found bias.

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