$20 – $100

AAIA Lecture Series. Pompeii Revisited: the Life and Death of a Roman Town

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Location

AAIA Boardroom

Room 480 - Level 4

The Madsen Building

The University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Australia

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Series Overview

Four consecutive Saturdays (10am-1pm) from 9 February to 2 March, 2019 (inclusive).

The ancient city of Pompeii, on the Campanian coast of Italy is more than a city frozen in time. Pompeii was a living, breathing city for several centuries before the eruption of Vesuvius buried the city. This engaging, four-week lecture series will chart the evolution of Pompeii from the earliest settlement around the 6th C BC, through its Hellenistic phase, to the Pompeian stand against Rome in the Social War, when Sulla laid siege to the city. We track the transformation of the town from its status as Roman colony to an Imperial city. We examine the growth of the city under the Empire and consider the possibility of decline following a serious earthquake in AD 62 before the destruction of the city in AD 79. We will examine the evidence for date of the eruption and review the impact of the city’s modern discovery and long-term archaeological investigations. We will explore public and private architecture, the artistic life and economic life of the city to gain an understanding of the cultural and archaeological treasure the city represents.

Series Presenter

The series will be presented by Jean-Paul Descœudres who taught at the University of Sydney from 1973 until 1996, when he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Archaeology at the University of Geneva. Between 1976 and 1984 he led the Australian Expedition to Pompeii; and developed the Rediscovering Pompeii exhibition at the Australian Museum in 1994-95. He is the main author of the well-known volume Pompeii Revisited: The Life and Death of a Roman Town. Jean-Paul currently holds Honorary Professorships at the universities of Sydney and Geneva and is the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Mediterranean Archaeology.

Weekly sessions:

Week 1: Pompeii in Campania

  • Get an overview of the geographical situation and prehistory of Pompeii.
  • Explore the early days from the first settlement in the 6th century BC to 194 BC, when Rome founds the nearby colony of Puteoli.
  • Discover Hellenistic Pompeii, through the 2nd century to the siege of Sulla in 89 BC.
  • Familiarize yourself with public architectural endeavours such as the theatre and lavish private houses and their ostentatious decoration, including the famous House of the Faun and houses decorated in the so-called First Pompeian Style.
  • Locate the harbour of Pompeii. We know it was tremendously important – but where was it?

The Alexander Mosaic, from the House of the Faun at Pompeii depicts the battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia.

Part of the Alexander Mosaic from the House of the Faun, Pompeii, dating from the late 2nd century BC. On the very left, Alexander the Great, on the right his opponent, the Persian king Darius III at the Battle of Issus.

Week 2: Colony of Venus - Pompeii from the Republic through to the Age of Augustus.

  • Bread and games (panem et circenses)! The building of an amphitheatre was a crucial part of the Romanization of the urban landscape.
  • Changes in domestic architecture also reflect the new order.
  • New decorative styles were introduced, nowhere more evident than in the spectacular Villa of the Mysteries.

Silenus holding a lyre (left); demi-god Pan and a nymph sitting on a rock, nursing a goat (centre); woman with coat (right). Fresco of the mystery ritual, right, Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, Italy.

Section of the frieze in the large reception hall of the Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii, that celebrates the house owner's divine nature.

Week 3: Pompeii under the Empire, from 31 BC to AD 62.

  • Under the Empire Pompeii was a growing city. We will chart that growth including the development of a new forum.
  • Contrast this public opulence against private restraint represented in the so-called Third Pompeian Style, seen in the Villa Imperiale, and its Roman models: the House of Augustus on the Palatine.

Central part of the S wall of the large Oecus A in the Villa Imperiale, Pompei

Central part of the south wall of the Oecus A in the so-called Villa Imperiale in Pompeii (Augustan Third Style). The central panel represents the Fall of Icarus.

Week 4 The last years of a Roman town (AD 62‑79).

  • A severe earthquake struck the bay of Naples on February 2, AD 62. This disaster had a lasting impact on the city. Was it in recovery or decline?
  • Learn about the so-called 4th Pompeian Style of wall painting exhibited in the House of the Vettii.
  • We know that the end came in AD 79, but at what date precisely? Was this end by gentle burial or violent death? Examine the archaeological evidence and compare this against historical accounts.
  • Born again. Pompeii’s discovery in the 18th century and subsequent and ongoing archaeological explorations have had a lasting impact on our understanding of life in pre-Roman and Roman Italy.

An ancient Fourth-Pompeian-Style Roman wall painting depicting a scene of sacrifice in honor of the goddess Diana; she is seen here accompanied by a deer. The fresco was discovered in the triclinium of House of the Vettii in Pompeii, Italy.

Detail of the Fourth-Style decoration of the famous House of the Vettii, realized a few years before AD 79.

Catering

Each week's session will commence with tea and coffee, and we will break for a morning tea interval offering tea, coffee and light refreshments.

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Location

AAIA Boardroom

Room 480 - Level 4

The Madsen Building

The University of Sydney, NSW 2006

Australia

View Map

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