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Unit 12 Pompeii/Vesuvius

The four "STYLES" of Pompeian ancient mural painting

The Pompeian Styles are four periods which are distinguished in ancient Roman mural painting. They were originally delineated and described by the German archaeologist August Mau, 18401909, from the excavation of wall paintings at Pompeii, which is one of the largest group of surviving examples of Roman frescoes. 

The wall painting styles have allowed art historians to delineate the various phases of interior decoration in the centuries leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, which both destroyed the city and preserved the paintings, and between stylistic shifts in Roman art. In the succession of styles, there is a reiteration of stylistic themes. The paintings also tell a great deal about the prosperity of the area and specific tastes during the times.

There are four main styles of Roman wall painting that have been found: Incrustation, architectural, ornamental, and intricate. Each style is unique, but each style following the first, contains aspects of each style previous to it. Any original paintings were created before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The first two styles (incrustation and architectural) were a part of the Republican period (related to Hellenistic Greek wall painting) and the last two styles (ornamental and intricate) were a part of the Imperial period.

The main purpose of these frescoes was to reduce the claustrophobic interiors of Roman rooms, which were windowless and dark. The paintings, full of color and life, brightened up the interior and made the room feel more spacious.  (The above is partially derived from Wikipedia)

Art in the Vesuvius 79AD Ruins


Artifacts recovered from towns and cities near the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius

Hundreds of thousands of artifacts have been recovered from the cities and towns buried by the Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD, and it's likely that diggers literally have just scratched the surface -- or rather, they have just dug below the surface in areas where there was/is some indication that something lies under ground, something protruding, or, more recently, something indicated by modern geophysical methods.  The new Pompeii site director, Gagriel Zuchtriegel (announced February 20, 2021), is known to be very knowledgeable of those methods:  he found a long lost temple in Paestum, his last post, without turning a spade.

There are many definitions for the word "artifact", two of which will be used in this course: 
    in archeology, an artifact is an item made or given shape by humans, such as a tool or a work of art, especially an object of archeological interest; 
    in anthropology and ethnology, an artifact is anything created by humans which gives information about the culture of its creator and users.

Using these definitions we might consider anything as small as (or smaller than) a gold coin or as large as (or larger than) a huge suburban villa outside the gates of Pompeii.

A short list of representative smaller finds (not bigger than a baker's mill) follows:

Bronze Lamps and lighting fixtures

Household Furniture





Silver/"Boscoreale Treasure", etc.

Tool kits and implements of the trades
          .jpg .jpg Fresco.jpg Fresco.jpg

Miscellaneous finds