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CLAS 496 B: Special Topics


Meeting Time: 
TTh 8:30am - 10:20am
SWS 038
Headshot of Sarah Levin-Richardson
Sarah Levin-Richardson

Syllabus Description:

CLAS 496B: Pompeii

Spring 2016

TTh 8:30-10:20am

SWS 038


Prof. Levin-Richardson

315 Condon Hall

Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:45-11:45am and by appointment



This class explores the houses, shops, temples, civic buildings, sculptures, household items, graffiti, and bodies buried in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. What was life like for those who lived and worked in an ancient Roman town?


Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to identify, discuss, and analyze the range of evidence (art, architecture, epigraphy, geology, literature, archaeological remains) from Pompeii
  • Be able to situate Pompeian material culture within its broader historical, art-historical, and social/cultural context
  • Be able to discuss and analyze scholarship on Pompeii


Learning Support:

If you know of something that might impact your learning (travel schedule with UW teams, health or personal crisis, disability) please contact me as soon as possible, ideally at the beginning of the quarter, so that I can make appropriate accommodations. Below you can find further resources:

  • Disability Resources for Students:
    • If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.
    • If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.
  • UW Academic Support:
  • UW Counseling Center:


Required Readings:

The required text for this class is listed below and can be found in the U bookstore, as well as on and other sites. Other required readings can be found on the course website. Each meeting in the schedule below has one or more readings to be read for that class session. For Thursday of Week 1, for example, please come to class having read pages 53-72 and 78-80 of the course textbook (which I refer to as Beard on the schedule). These readings are a starting point for in-class lecture and discussion, which often will expand upon the assigned readings and/or present new material. Thus, I strongly recommend careful reading of the assigned material as well as attending class.


Beard, Mary. 2008 [there have been multiple reprints, so the year doesn’t matter]. The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found. Belknap Press.



  • Quizzes: 25%
  • Exam: 30%
  • Monument presentation: 15%
  • Final project: 30%


Assignments cover material both from the assigned readings and from class; as such, it is very important to do the readings and to come to class.


Your final course grade is calculated from these assignments in the proportions given. Please prepare carefully for these assignments, and please come see me in advance if you have any questions about how to best prepare. There will be no extra credit.


The grading scale used in this class is as follows:




Percentage Earned 

Grade-Point Equivalent




































































0.7 [lowest passing grade]

59 and x < 59





Further Expectations:

  • In class
    • In order to maximize your learning potential and prevent distraction to others, I ask that you do not use cellphones in class, and use laptops only for note-taking or other class-related purposes.
    • You are responsible for all materials assigned in the readings and covered in lectures. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes from a classmate.
      • The University of Washington prohibits the selling of notes online or through any other channels.
    • No audio or visual recording of class is permitted without my written authorization. If you are struggling with the pace of lectures, please stop by office hours to chat with me.
    • No posting of course materials of any kind is permitted without my written authorization.
  • Getting in touch with each other
    • Please check your uw email daily; this is how I will communicate with you about pertinent information (such as when study guides are posted, or if class needs to be cancelled for some reason). You are responsible for all information disseminated over email and through the course website.
    • I hold office hours for you! I am happy to chat with you about class (including any concerns you may have), study abroad opportunities, how to follow your interest in archaeology or Classics, etc. If you are anxious about assignments, please come to office hours before the assignment or exam and we can discuss strategies one-on-one. If you would like to chat but can’t make it to scheduled office hours, just email me and we can find a time to meet.
    • I am happy to answer questions over email, but please check the syllabus first to see whether the answer is there.
    • I will respond to emails by the end of the next working day (which means that if you email me on Friday afternoon, I may not respond until Monday afternoon).
  • Grading
    • Students are expected to adhere to ethical behavior in their work, including following guidelines posted for each exam and assignment concerning group work and plagiarism/cheating.
    • Make-up quizzes and exams will be given only in the case of documented illness or emergency, or for university-approved events (athletics, etc.), that are cleared with me in advance.
    • I’d be happy to discuss any of your graded work with you, but I ask that you wait twenty-four hours after receiving your exam back in order to begin to process my feedback. After the twenty-four-hour period, please feel free to email me to set up a time to meet. Unfortunately, I cannot discuss grades over email.


Schedule of Topics and Required Readings:


Week 1: Introduction to Pompeii

T March 29: The Destruction and Rediscovery of Pompeii

Th March 31: Infrastructure: roads, water, toilets

  • Beard 53-72, 78-80


Week 2: Pompeii’s History

T April 5: Pre-Roman Pompeii

  • Beard 26-37
  • Carafa, Paolo. 1997. “What was Pompeii before 200 BC? Excavations in the House of Joseph II, in the Triangular Forum, and in the House of the Wedding of Hercules,” in Sequence and Space in Pompeii, eds. Sarah E. Bon and Rick Jones. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 13-31. [read pp. 13-15 (stop before “The Excavation”) and 25 to the end (starting with “Interpretation)]
  • Optional:

Th April 7: Roman Pompeii

  • Beard 37-52
  • Lo Cascio, Elio. 2001. “The process of Romanization,” in The Epigraphic Collection, eds. Mariarosaria Borreillo and Teresa Giove. Trans. Federico Poole. Naples: Electa Napoli. 28-34


Week 3: Agriculture and Commerce

T April 12: Quiz 1; Agriculture and Economy

  • Moormann, Eric. 2007. “Villas Surrounding Pompeii and Herculaneum,” in World of Pompeii, eds. J.J. Dobbins and Peder Foss. Routledge. 435-454 [read first two paragraphs of page 435 then skip to “Altogether, more than a hundred” on p. 440 and end before “Chronology” on p. 445]
  • Jongman, Willem. “The Loss of Innocence: Pompeian economy and society between past and present,” in World of Pompeii, eds. J.J. Dobbins and Peder Foss. Routledge. 499-517. [read pages 503-508]

Th April 14: Commerce


Week 4: Public Life

T April 19: Politics and the Forum

  • Beard 72-78 (“The People in the Streets”)
  • Beard 188-195 (stop before “The burdens of office”); 203-215
  • Jerusalem Kifelew: Presentation on Basilica
  • Donavon Preiser: Presentation on Building of Eumachia
  • Robert Szender: Presentation on Macellum

Th April 21: Pompeian Religions

  • Beard 276-281 (stop before “city temples”); 290-304 (stop before “The temple of Isis”) 
  • Michael Phuong: Presentation on Temple of Jupiter/Capitolium
  • Vince Geangan: Presentation on Temple to Augustan Fortune
  • Isaac Lam: Presentation on the Temple of Isis


Week 5: Housing

T April 26: Quiz 2; Curation and Museum Display

  • Burke Museum Project (see under week 5)

Th April 27: Housing

  • Beard 88-110 (stop before “A classic case”); 118-119
  • Matthew Iwicki: Presentation on House of the Ceii
  • Scarlett Strauss: Presentation on the House of the Faun
  • Rebekka Nicholson: Presentation on House of Octavius Quartio


Week 6: Housing (continued)

T May 3: House Décor

  • Beard ch. 4 [skip pages 131-134]
  • Evan Wogrin: Presentation on House of the Orchard
  • Dakota Neill: Presentation on House of the Vettii
  • Hayley Watson: Presentation on Villa of the Mysteries

Th May 5: Housing in Herculaneum

  • Dickmann, Jens-Arne. 2007. “Residences in Herculaneum,” in World of Pompeii, eds. J.J. Dobbins and Peder Foss. Routledge. 421-434.  [skip from 432, “Let us exit…” to 433, “In conclusion”]
  • Seth Powell: Presentation on the House of the Carbonized Furniture
  • Andrea Seaton: Presentation on the House of Mosaic Atrium
  • Dominic Mein: Presentation on the Villa of the Papyri


Week 7: Housing; Entertainment and Baths

T May 10: Quiz 3; Children and slaves in houses

  • Huntley, Katherine. 2011. “Identifying Children’s Graffiti in Roman Campania,” in Ancient Graffiti in Context, J.A. Baird and Claire Taylor, Routledge. 69-89. [read pages 69-70 (stop before “Studying Childhood or Studying Children”); 73 [“A Developmental Psychological approach…”)-83]
  • Joshel, Sandra and Lauren Hackworth Petersen. 2014. The Material Life of Roman Slaves. New York: Cambridge. [read pp. 25-30 (starting at “What we claim to know”); 40-46 (start at “slaves on the move”; stop before “This architectural pattern”); 59-63 (start at “slave tactics”; stop before “At the house of the Ceii”)]

Th May 12: Entertainment and Baths

  • Beard 241-243 (“A Good Bath”; stop before “the variety of opportunities” on p. 243)
  • Beard 253-260 (stop before “the Amphitheater”)
  • Beard 264 (starting with “advertisements”)-275
  • Samantha Paskvan: Presentation on Amphitheater
  • Kelsey Plimpton: Presentation on Large and small theater
  • Ken Lo: Presentation on Stabian Baths
  • Sarah Joersz: Presentation on Forum Baths


Week 8: Sex and Death

T May 17: Sex and Brothels

  • Beard 233-237 (stop before last sentence on p. 237)
  • Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew. 1995. “Public honour and private shame: the urban texture of Pompeii,” in Urban Society in Roman Italy, eds. T.J. Cornell and Kathryn Lomas. London: University College London Press, 39-62 [skip “Pompeii and the Historian” on pages 40-43].
  • Tahier Seid: Presentation on Suburban Baths

Th May 19: Death and the afterlife

  • Berry, Joanne. 2007. The Complete Pompeii. London: Thames and Hudson. [read pages 92-101]
  • Lazer, Estelle. 2007. “Victims of Cataclysm,” in World of Pompeii, eds. J.J. Dobbins and Peder Foss. Routledge. 607-619.
  • Hannah Clorite: Presentation on the Villa of Poppaea at Oplontis

NOTE: May 19-21: Feminism and Classics VII: Visions


Week 9

T May 24: Exam

Th May 26: Final Project workday


Week 10: Final Project Presentations

T May 31: Presentations

  1. Isaac Lam
  2. Hugo Vollstedt
  3. Michael Phuong
  4. Hayley Watson
  5. Sarah Barrie
  6. Jerusalem Kifelew
  7. Andrea Seaton
  8. Hanna Clorite
  9. Matthew Iwicki
  10. Dominic Mein
  11. Robert Szender


Th June 2: Presentations

  1. Ken Lo
  2. Vince Geangan
  3. Kelsey Plimpton
  4. Sarah Joersz
  5. Tahier Seid
  6. Dakota Neill
  7. Evan Wogrin
  8. Sam Paskvan
  9. Donavon Preiser
  10. Rebekka Nicholson
  11. Scarlett Strauss


Final Project Due: Tuesday June 7 10:30am in SWS 038 [optional: viewing of Pompeii (2014) from 10:30am-12:20pm]


Final project ideas:




Sex and sexuality



Ethnic diversity


Domestic life





Food and drink



Greek and Roman myths


Bodily care






Additional Details:

This class explores the houses, shops, temples, civic buildings, graffiti, and bodies buried in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. What was life like for those who lived and worked in an ancient Roman town? 

Catalog Description: 
Offered occasionally by visitors or resident faculty.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:12pm