Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
The goal of this project is to attempt to answer definitely whether people from Pompeii and Herculaneum survived the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 and if so, whether survivors can be located in the Roman world. In this lecture we trace survivors of the eruption and discover Roman government responses to natural disasters.
After creating 8 categories of evidence that might indicate refugee resettlement including individuals whose movement is documented, Roman family names, voting tribes, refugee intermarriage, new infrastructure, and cultural evidence, I created databases of family names from Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the prospective refuge cities of Capua, Cumae, Naples, Nola, Ostia, Paestum, Puteoli, Salerno, Surrentum, Ulubrae, and Velia.
Analysis of this material across the 8 categories of evidence finds that the coastal communities of Cumae, Naples, Puteoli, and Ostia provide the best support for refugee resettlement. For, example, at Cumae two members of the Sulpicius family recorded at Pompeii late in the life of the city died at Cumae in the late 1st century. They were joined there by members of the Pompeian branches of the Licinii and Lucretii, who intermarried in the new city.
The patterns indicate that more people survived from Pompeii than from Herculaneum, that most stayed in coastal Campania, and that government intervention and support came after resettlement, but did not drive it. Additionally, the refugees that can be traced seem to have selected refuge cities based on personal factors such as social and economic networks.
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