Abstract: Pompeii from the bottom-up: Excavations into the history of Pompeii’s working-class families


Tucked away in a corner of ancient Pompeii lies a largely forgotten corner of the city once packed with houses, restaurants, and workshops.  All of them quite humble, their (re)discovery and excavation by the University of Cincinnati’s ‘Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: 

Porta Stabia (PARP:PS) over the past few years now offers us a rare chance to piece together the livelihoods of Pompeii’s sub-elite.  In this presentation we take a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at some of these newest directions and latest discoveries in Pompeian archaeology.  These excavations into an entire Pompeian neighborhood are revealing its full and complex history: from the topographic layout of the volcanic landscape prior to earliest human activity, to the discovery of household items under the collapse of the buildings when the city was destroyed in AD 79.  Especially fascinating are the stories that emerge from charting the history of each neighboring building and of the (otherwise forgotten) modest families that lived in them.  This new look at a more ‘plebeian’ Pompeii reveals some of the complexities of Roman social and urban networks, ultimately helping us to determine the role that sub-elites played in the shaping of the ancient city, while also registering their response to city- and Mediterranean-wide historical, political, and economic developments.


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