Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Remains of Pompeii- Part 1

Sorry I have not posted in a while. My internet has been on the fritz.

So, this is a paper that I wrote for my anthropology class. The last part of the the series will have my sources in it and I will try and link everything together for you. Please do not copy.

Pompeii has been a draw for treasure hunters and archaeologists alike since its rediscovery in 1748 ( The volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius that coated the city nearly two thousand years prior left most of the city intact. In a time when all events were related to the gods, the eruption would have been seen as the gods punishment and would have kept scavengers away. By the time the gods were no longer feared, Pompeii had long been forgotten. This left most of Pompeii to be discovered with its wealth of artifacts and other physical remains. The findings at Pompeii gave long unseen insight to archaeologists as to the daily lives of Romans. With all that was found, what did archaeologists learn from the sight?

Pompeii Today
When Mount Vesuvius erupted, it released clouds of ash that coated two cities: Pompeii and Herculaneum. The cloud was full of rocks, ashes, and gases that could be seen from miles away. Today it is called a Plinean eruption, after Pliny the Younger ( Pliny was a young man of eighteen when he saw Mount Vesuvius erupt from across the bay of his home. His were some of the most complete letters found, describing the event to a friend years after the fact (Destruction of Pompeii). What Pliny did not know when the volcano erupted was that a couple days later, the ash would have settled, leaving nearly two thousand dead and buried within the city (

Pompeii recreation
Mount Vesuvius first belched a cloud of ash in the air which turned the sky dark and made the air thick. As it began to settle, it collapsed homes and trapped the inhabitants. Many did not realize just the danger they were in until this happened, and by that time it was too late. A second wave of gases swept in along with rocks, over taking and killing all who remained in the city. The tons of ash made it nearly impossible for those who returned to find the remains of family and friends or belongings left behind ( With the once fertile mountain side full of vineyards now gone and the memory of the volcano's wrath still in mind, the survivors left to find new homes elsewhere.

Ash found its way into every nook and cranny within Pompeii, completely encapsulating everything. Rains followed and packed the ash in, making a hard covering. J. J. Winckelmann studied Pompeii from 1759-1765, concluding that the city had received less rain than Herculaneum as its ash was not quite as compact (Dwyer 4). The remains of the city were preserved by this ash, giving a unique look at history. Buried items were protected from winds and rains, as well as oxygen. Where artifacts are difficult to come by in other areas, these had not been carried away by nature or man.

To be Continued.....

Part 2
Part 3

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Not so Ritzy Republics- Part 3

Before the Roman Empire, there was the Roman Republic, the first republic in history. For years they lived well, advancing far beyond their contemporaries. Their government worked well because of their balance of power. I'm not going to go over it all because it would take this whole post but I will give the general idea.

Rome had two classes: the Patricians (Upper) and the Plebians (Lower). Then they had three levels of governance: one filled by patricians, one by plebians, and the last (the Senate) by any who had served in the other levels. This made sure that someone spoke for the rich and the poor, not that they simply said they did. They also had an election once a year that one would never want to win. The election was to find the greatest threat the republic and then banish that person for ten years.

Julius Caesar
There was the position of consul that could was held by two people for a year each. In time of crisis, the consuls would elect a dictator. Unlike today, the dictator would only stay in office while there was a crisis (usually a war). They had the right to veto anything and everything, to do as they pleased. Usually they would be elected for a certain number of years, however, most resigned early.

Still, as the years went by, the Senators became greedy. They already served for life and believed they could do as they wanted. Corruption spread (land meant for the poor feed the senators' purses and soldiers returned to Rome only to be homeless) and poverty was found everywhere.

Various dictators came into power to fix the problems, most resigning after only a few months in office. When Julius Caesar came to power, first as a consul and then as a dictator, he was loved by the Roman people. First he had campaigned by speaking with the common people, gaining their support and then out maneuvered every competitor to elections. Re-elected to dictator more than once, each time he extended the length of his term. In his final term, he made himself dictator for life.

Caesar Agustus
As dictator, Julius Caesar strengthened the economy and the Roman borders while fighting personal battles against various acquaintances (including a son-in-law). Now that he had become dictator for life, many in the Senate feared he would crown himself king, taking away any republic power they had. In a Senate session, over sixty senators fell upon and stabbed him to death.

Oddly enough, the actions that were meant to keep Julius Caesar from creating a monarchy instead created an empire. Octavius, the nephew of Julius and adopted son, was made Emporer of Rome, ending the Republic. He was renamed Augustus and took Caesar as his title after the man who laid his career.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Today the blog got a redesign. I hope this is easier on the eyes and to read. Let me know what you think.

Not so Ritzy Republics- Part 2

As far as republics go, France is currently in their fifth. Three have come about from changes in Constitutions, however, the first two were ends of monarchies. The first republic began in 1792 and is the one I am going to speak on today.

Leading up to the first French Republic was the French Revolution. The people of France had suffered tensions and lack of funds. France had three estates: Clerics (members of the Catholic Church), Nobles, and Peasants (who were far more than half the population). Each estate had representatives in the government but each estate only got one vote. Most often than not, the clerics and nobles would vote together, making laws that helped them out while shouldering the peasants with most of the taxes and other burdens.

King Louis XVI
King Louis XVI had been sending financial support to the American colonists during the American Revolution. The problem was that he sent money that he really did not have to spend. To get the money, Louis had to raise taxes and since he could not do so on his own, he turned to the estates to do it for him. Instead of taking on the taxes themselves (out of their large amounts of wealth) the clerics and nobles gave the taxes to the peasants.

In a time when peasants were required by law to give tithe and levy to the Church and to also pay rent to the Lord of the Manor (they did not own their own land), along with fees for the wineries and millers (set by the Lords), added taxes became too much. Angry that they were always out voted, the peasants asked that they be give two votes instead of one, since they had the largest estate. Louis had no problem with this, while the other estates shot it down. Upset that they had been denied, the third estate declared themselves the National Assembly and later took the Tennis Court Oath, declaring they would not leave the tennis court where they meet until they had a new constitution.
Tennis Court Oath

March of Women
Storming the Bastille
Meanwhile, bread (a staple making up much of their diet) had skyrocketed in cost. Fish wives marched on the Castle of Versailles and forced the King and his family to move to Paris and take action. Peasants, afraid the king would send troops against them, attacked the Bastille to gather arms.

In 1792, King Louis XVI was beheaded and a republic was official in France. For the next year, the First republic struggled. In 1793, the Terror began to bring stability. During the Terror, anyone viewed as an enemy of the Republic was sent to the guillotine (a machine used to behead).

Terror Propaganda
Small things, like complaining about the price of bread could get someone sent to the guillotine. Others were sent by rivals or angry neighbors for no real reason at all.

Crowds would amass to watch the executions. Scientist would watch the heads after the came off to see how many times the eyes blinked. Old ladies would gather with their knitting to call down curses on the condemned.

The Terror ended in 1794, when its most ardent support, Robespierre, was sent to the Guillotine himself.

For the next few years France struggled with all the changes the new Republic attempted to make. Some are mentioned on this earlier post. Things did not get better until Napoleon Bonaparte came to power in 1799 (not yet as emperor).