Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Classical Italy Day 4: Pompeii and Naples

To get to Pompeii, the Roman ruins preserved by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD, we rode the bus for 45ish minutes. The drive, however, was worth it and students loved seeing the ruins of Pompeii up close and personal. One thing I find particularly exciting is the fact that Pompeii is only three fifths excavated in order to save parts of it for future archaeologists with more modern technology. That means we will be hearing more about new discoveries in Pompeii as excavation work continues over the decades. Favorite parts of Pompeii included the house of mysteries, graffiti, and the iconic cave canem mosaic.

The house of mysteries was most likely home to a mystery cult. Along the walls of this villa are beautiful frescoes which walk through the cult initiation process. We were amazed that the colors and images were in such good condition after nearly two thousand years.

Mosaic of a dog


Ancient Roman graffiti lines the walls of the city. Unlike in today’s world, walls were commonly used as political signage, tic-tac-toe boards, grocery lists, and the like. We enjoyed figuring out the abbreviated Latin slang of someone running for office in Pompeii.

Finally, the cave canem mosaic gave students the opportunity to see in person one of the most famous images of the ancient world. We read a Latin excerpt of Petronius, a Roman author who lived from 27-65AD, who wrote about the mosaic, before going to see it for ourselves.

In the afternoon, we explored the Naples Archeological Museum. A palace turned museum, the museum and its long marble corridors and large steps are similar to museums in D.C. We enjoyed seeing many items which were taken from Pompeii to be preserved in the museum. Given the chance to set out in small groups, we identified the Roman mythological and historical figures sculpted in various works of art.

A sarcophagus in the Naples Archaeological Museum

We were excited to see our first bit of sun today and were fortunate that the rain mostly held off until we were in the museum. We can’t wait to continue our trip and look forward to going to Paestum and Salerno tomorrow.

-Alicia Lopez

1 comment:

Rachel Carter said...

Looks like a fascinating day!