Oct. 19th: Pompeii, the Last Day (and presentations pt. 2)

The second day of oral presentations in Pompeii was kicked off bright and early by the sweet Jiyoung, who accommodated the groggy group with seats from which to listen to her lecture on the oldest known amphitheater in the Roman world. We were accompanied by the lovable mutts of Pompeii, much to our TA’s chagrin. The amphitheater would have housed athletic shows, wild beast fights, and gladiatorial games, and its tri-cavea arrangement would have been used to physically underscore the social stratification with which the Romans were so preoccupied. On our way out of the amphitheater, Professor Ulrich took the opportunity to sneak us into the House of Julia Felix, a labyrinthine house that would have rented out the use of its bath complex to a select number of locals.

The next presentation was delivered by Lucas. After guiding us through the Archaic triangular forum, he led us into the second century theater of Pompeii. The structure, as with many others in the ancient city, combines both Italic and Hellenic architectural elements. While the theater would have been reserved for the production of plays, theodeon would have been used for musical performances and poetry readings. The arched entranes of the odeon of Pompeii, as Yuhang diligently recounted, also offer a peek at some of the earliest extant brickwork.

The morning was neatly rounded off by Teddy’s guided tour of the Temple of Isis, a secluded structure behind the entertainment complex that would have been the rendezvous point of a mystery cult to the Egyptian goddessand, to a lesser extent, her husband Osiris and son Horus.The site came complete with a Nilometer and residential quarters for the priest. Upon the conclusion of the presentation, the group scattered to the four winds in search of some much needed sustenance. Mercifully, the snack bar was stocked up on Kinder bars and Toblerone, so none of the girls threw a fit.

Once satiated, we reconvened in the House of the Faun, where we peered into the tetrastyle atrium to catch a glimpse of a bombshell from the Second World War. The metal casing had been left in situ as a monument to the accidental destruction wreaked upon Pompeii by the US Air Force. We then made the short trip to the forum, trailed by Teddy’s new pet dog. Professor Ulrich spoke of the different phases of the Capitolium, whose steps were abruptly hidden midway when a rostra was constructed over them during the Augustan Period. After being sufficiently confused by the stratigraphy of the temple, we poured onto the streets of Region VI in search of one of the 31 bakeries in the ancient city. Emmanuel guided us through the process of bread manufacturing and the apparatuses that would be used for threshing, grinding, and baking. It was a very educational talk, but one that made our stomachs growl once more. We never do seem to be satisfied.

Jin wrapped up the oral presentations at Pompeii with her report on fullonicas, the ancients’ version of a modern daylaundromat. Human urine would have constituted a primary component of the detergent used to wash clothing, a practice that can hardly have made fullonicas very pleasant centers. After we had finished exploring the washing basins, we marched to the Herculaneum gate and the nearby extra-urban Villa of the Mysteries, so named after its wall decoration depicting what is thought to be an initiation rite into the cult of Dionysus. Our tour of the villa marked our last lecture in Pompeii and, once it had concluded, members of the group petered off on their own to wander the streets of the town one last time. We have all spent between 25 and 30 hours in Pompeii and, for all our starvation-induced whining, we are disappointed to have to bid it goodbye for now.

Our sorrow was somewhat mitigated by an excellent dinner at the Hotel Forum consisting almost entirely of seafood and fish. There were even some vegetables thrown about. It was agreed that none of us had felt this healthy since the program had begun. A shout-out to all mothers: you are missed. What in God’s name is braising? Help.



Photos brought to you by Brett:

Cara and her dirty dog friends.

Then she tries to look innocent when the TA kindly reminds her to stop touching the strays.

Jiyoung captivates all with her presentation on the amphitheater.

No visit to the amphitheater is complete without some brawling outside the entrance.

Tricliniums made out of marble are sooo 1st century.

Swimming in the baths!

I spy with my little eye…Prof. Ulrich's lunch bag!


Lucas demonstrates how well the acoustics work in the large theater.

Most people would crack under pressure, but good ol' Atlas here is holding up just fine.

Temple of Isis: Get a taste of Egypt in Pompeii.

(But not quite the same)


“Behold the magnificent mill stone!”
Jin explains the different stages of “washing” in the fullonica. If you can even call it that.
“Call Me Maybe”
More dog pals.
Teddy's version of getting a drink of water.

Just chilling in the Herculaneum cemetery.

Yet another instance in which students mistake columns as headrests.

Sunset on the grave of Mamia.

Pretty colors.

Farewell, Pompeii.



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