Friday, June 14, 2013

The Remains of Pompeii- Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

Considering the importance of wine to the people of Pompeii, it being made from the the numerous vineyards that had covered the mountain side, it is not surprising that evidence of Bacchians was found in Pompeii. Bacchus was the god of theater, wine, and revelry. A fresco in the House of the Centenary was found depicting Bacchus, dressed in grapes, standing beside Mount Vesuvius. Another fresco in the Villa of Mysteries showed the phases of an initiation right into the cult. Oddly, no temple to Bacchus has been found in Pompeii, however, that may be due to worship of Bacchus being prohibited in 186 B. C. by the Roman Senate (Albentiis 50-55). Full of wine and “revelry”, Bacchanalians were festivals held by Bacchians which often became disorderly and frightened citizens not involved in the cult, which caused the laws against them.

Throughout the city of Pompeii are found the physical remains of the people who lived there. Bones of both man and animal were excavated from homes, temples, places of business, and the streets. At first, bones were simply removed from the ashes and moved to other areas to be studied. Once moved, the bones might be relaid in order to reenact the discoveries for visitors (Beard 5). This left little evidence as to clothing and status of the individuals, other than what could be deduced by the bones. Clothing and hair prints could be found in the hardened ash, but most was destroyed in the excavation of the remains. Perhaps one of the most exciting finds was the preserved breast of a woman in the Villa of Diomedes. It was the first body part found, other than a bone, that has been successfully removed from the city ruins (Beard 6).

Though plaster had been available for a while before, it was not used to create casts of Pompeii's victims until 1863. Giuseppe Fiorelli was the one who decided to use the plaster, and ever since it has helped with the further study of the people of Pompeii (Dwyer 1). Plaster casts have allowed archaeologists to view the complete forms of Pompeians in their last moments. It had permitted more detailed study of garments and status as they could be removed from the sites more readily.

With the help of the plaster casts, archaeologists have been able to study the types of clothing worn in Pompeii at the time Mount Vesuvius erupted. Imprints reveal weaves and textures that give a hint as to styles of that time and the technology used to make them. Discovering whether someone had worn wool or linen could also help archaeologists determine what class this person belonged to and their level of wealth. Further study of the Villa of Diomedes revealed the skeletons of eighteen individuals and the garments they wore. La Vega, the excavator, was able to deduce that one was a women of means based on the quality of her clothing. Along side her were those that La Vega hypothesized were slaves as they had no shoes to speak of (Dwyer 9,10).

To be Continued...

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