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The Preserved Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum

Info: 1629 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 9th Nov 2021 in History

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Versuvuis’ Lost cities

The lost cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum are extremely significant historical sites, which give a comprehensive understanding into the life of ordinary Romans.

Abstract

Pompeii and Herculaneum were entombed under five meters of volcanic ash and pumice, in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius violently erupted, causing these cities to become an historic time capsule. The city of Pompeii and Herculaneum remained untouched until excavations began in 1748 (Western Australian Museum, 2020). These evacuations provided an archeological record of this ancient civilization and a comprehensive picture into Roman culture, society and life. The ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum are extremely significant archeological sites, which give an insight into the life of ordinary Romans, such as their diet, public entertainment and the social disparity between the rich and the poor (History.Com Editors , 2020). The discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum is greatly significant, as it enables people today to understand the life of ordinary Romans.

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Life of Ordinary Romans

During the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, many plants, foods and gardens were uncovered, which help the world understand the life and diet of early Romans. Petrified seeds, animal bones, fish bones, shells and loaves of bread were discovered suggesting the people ate a variety of foods (Roberts, 2020). A painting discovered in Herculaneum depicts many cultivated fruit and vegetable trees and chickens (Roberts, 2020). Central gardens were discovered in more affluent homes, featuring cherry, fig and olive trees (Message to Eagle , 2020). The diet of the rich was more varied and lavish, however the slaves and poor lived on porridge, bread and scraps, illustrating the vast divide between the rich and the poor (Griffiths, 2020). Preserved shop fronts and cafes, as well as paintings with bustling market stalls have provided valuable insight into the Roman diet and lifestyle at the time of destruction (Budanovic, 2020). These remarkable discoveries enable the world to understand the life of ordinary Romans, demonstrating the importance of the historical sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Entertainment and social gatherings Roman Empire of everyday Romans were revealed through the discovery of architectural ruins and murals. Pompeii’s Amphitheatre discovered in 1823, is Roman’s oldest and most intact displaying its importance in Roman life (Sheldon, 2020). The amphitheater was used to watch gladiator fights, a popular form of entertainment during Roman times. The amphitheater had the capacity to accommodate 20 000 people and revealed three distinct areas to accommodate the different social classes, indicating the importance and popularity of these games (Berry, 2020). Additionally, many public thermal baths were discovered in Pompeii and Herculaneum. These baths are imperative in understanding the social life of ordinary Romans (S, 2020). The thermal baths were a luxurious part of Roman life, they were not only used for bathing, as few houses had running water, but also for exercising and socialising (History.Com Editors , 2020). The popular baths, Stabian being the oldest thermal bath in Pompeii, demonstrating the social structure during that period. Men were evidently in a higher status power to women as the gentlemen sections were more spacious and more comfortable than women’s and were in areas of high importance and the women’s fees were twice as much as the men’s (Graham, 2020) . The archeological discoveries of the amphitheater and thermal baths, help us understand the social structure and life of ordinary Romans, illustrating their historical significance.

The discovery of the historic civilization of Pompeii and Herculaneum highlights the divide between the rich and poor, which is significant as it helps us understand the life of ordinary Romans. In these ancient cities the rich lived in extravagant houses that contained marble and bronze fixtures, water fountains and private dining rooms, some houses even occupied a whole block (Beard M. , 2008). In contrast, the slaves lived in cramped, dirty attics and sheds, which were separated from the main part of the house and the free poor lived on the streets. Comparing the difference in housing of the rich and the poor it is easy to identify the disparity between them (Shaer, 2020). Another piece of evidence that depicts the divide between the social classes was their clothing. In a cellar in Herculaneum, skeletons were discovered in two groups, the rich who wore adorned with gold bracelets, bangles and necklaces and the poor who were found without any jewelry, this clearly demonstrates the divide in social classes due to wealth (Beard P. M., 2020). Understanding the everyday life of Romans during the Roman Empire and the divide between the rich and the poor has been successful because of these significant archeological discoveries.  

The preserved cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, after the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, have been an extremely valuable resource in teaching the world about life in the Roman Empire, during Emperor Nero’s reign (Roberts, 2020). The uncovering of these buried cities, by archeologists have revealed a wealth of significant historical information about the social, economic, cultural and religious life of Romans. These historical sites are significant and have been essential in understanding the life of ordinary Romans through the discovery of food, housing, gardens, architectural ruins and skeletal remains.  These discoveries have given an unpreceded insight and comprehensive picture of the life of ordinary Romans demonstrating the significant value of the historical archeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. 

Bibliography

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