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CL AR 347 A: Pompeii: A Time Capsule of Ancient Life

Meeting Time: 
MW 8:30am - 10:20am
THO 125
Joint Sections: 
ART H 347 A
Headshot of Sarah Levin-Richardson
Sarah Levin-Richardson

Syllabus Description:

ARTH/CLAR 347: Pompeii: A Time Capsule of Ancient Life

Spring 2019

MW 8:30-10:20am

THO 125


Prof. Levin-Richardson (you can call me Professor Levin-Richardson, Professor L-R, or just Professor)

Office: Denny 227 (enter through the main doors of Denny, pass the water fountain and elevators, and it’s the first office on the left)

Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 11am-noon and by appointment



This class explores the power differential between men and women, slaves and masters, and citizens and foreigners in the cultural melting pot of ancient Pompeii, which was preserved by a volcanic eruption in 79 CE. Graffiti, skeletal remains, everyday objects, humble and world-class art and monuments will be analyzed.


Learning Objectives:

  • Be able to discuss and analyze a range of evidence (art, architecture, graffiti, objects) from Pompeii
  • Be able to situate Pompeian material culture within its broader historical and social/cultural context
  • Be able to discuss and analyze the constraints and opportunities offered to different types of individuals (women, children, slaves, former slaves, foreigners, and elite men) at Pompeii


Learning Support:

If you know of something that might impact your learning (travel with UW teams, health or personal crisis, accessibility requirements) 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 (it is also available via course reserves in Odegaard). Other required readings can be found on the course Canvas page. Each meeting in the schedule below has one or more readings to be read for that class session. For Wednesday of Week 1, for example, please come to class having read pages 53-65, 70-72, 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: 35% (to be completed on Canvas before each class)
    • 10-minute quiz on the assigned readings to be completed on Canvas before each class. You may consult the readings and your notes, but you may not work with other individuals on the quizzes. The lowest two quizzes will be dropped.
  • Monument presentation: 15% (TBA; check schedule below once presentations have been assigned)
    • Each student will team-up with another student for a 10-minute presentation (with powerpoint) on an important Pompeian building. See guidelines on Canvas for more details.
  • Object writing assignment: 15% (due Wednesday May 1 at the beginning of class)
    • 4-5 page double-spaced essay on objects related to various types of individuals (men, women, children, freedmen and freedwomen, slaves). See guidelines on Canvas for more details.
  • Final exam: 35% (Tuesday, June 11, 8:30-10:20am)
    • Essays; covers material from the entire course, including monument presentations. A study guide will be posted on Canvas in advance of the exam.


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.


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 use devices/screens only for 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 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 well in advance of the assignment or exam so 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 assignment concerning group work and plagiarism/cheating.
    • 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 assignment 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; Infrastructure

M April 1: Introduction

W April 3: Access to Resources: Managing Streets, Water, and Waste

  • Beard 53-65 (“Beneath your feet” “What were streets for?” “Boulevards and back alleys” “Water features”), 70-72 (“Pavements [=sidewalks]: public and private”), 78-80 (“The city that never sleeps”)


Week 2: Multiculturalism and the Development of Pompeii

M April 8: Pre-Roman Pompeii

  • Beard 26-37 (“Glimpses of the past” “Before Rome”)
  • 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 p.25 to the end (starting with “Interpretation”)]

W April 10: Roman Pompeii

  • Beard 37-52 (“Becoming Roman” “Pompeii in the Roman world”)
  • 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 [stop near the top of the left-hand column of p. 32, before the sentence beginning “The program of Tiberius’ agrarian reform…”]


Week 3: Access to Resources: Politics

M April 15: Politics and the Forum

  • Beard 188-195 (“Vote, vote vote”), 203-215 (“The face of success” “Beyond the male elite”)

W April 17: NO CLASS (Prof. L-R giving talk in Illinois)


Week 4: Commerce and Occupations

M April 22: Commerce

  • Beard 152-153 (“Profit margins”), 162-169 (“City trades”), 177-185 (“A banker”)
  • Presentation on the Macellum (Frances Scott-Weis and Ian Biddle)

M April 24: Occupations

  • Beard 170-177 (“A baker”), 185-187 (“the garum maker”)
  • Clarke, John. 2003. Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans: Visual Representation and Non-Elite Viewers in Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 315. Berkeley:  University of California Press. [read pages 105-118 (start at the section “Verecundus and his wife”; end before the section “Worker Reliefs”)]


Week 5: Religious Practices and Identity

M April 29: Religious Practices

  • Beard 276-281 (“Those other inhabitants” “A religion without the book”), 290-301 (“Celebrating the gods: in public and private” “Politics and religion: emperors, attendants and priests”)
  • Presentation on the Temple of Jupiter/Capitolium (Rayna Bryan and Holly Dirks)
  • Presentation on the Temple to Augustan Fortune (Megan Mast and Isabelle Hoecherl)
  • Presentation on the Temple of Isis (Terrene Huang and Sara Hastings)

W May 1: Objects and Identity

  • Object writing assignment due at the beginning of class


Week 6: Housing and Identity

M May 6: Housing: From Work Lofts to Villas

  • Beard 88-110 (“The art of reconstruction” “Upstairs, downstairs” “Show houses” “For richer for poorer: not ‘the Pompeian house’”; stop before the paragraph beginning “But it was not only the poorer…”); 118-119 (“79 CE: all change”)
  • Presentation on the House of the Faun (Lauren Beninger and Kate Scannell-Daniel)
  • Presentation on the House of Octavius Quartio (Nathan Walter Isler and Annie James)
  • Presentation on the Villa of the Mysteries (Angela He and Dahyun Kim)

W May 8: Painting: Frescoes and Social Status

  • Beard 120-130 (“Beware: painters at work” “Pompeian colours”; stop at the bottom of page 130), 134-151 (“What went where” “Myths do furnish a room” “A room with a view?”)
  • Presentation on the House of the Vettii (Junlin Jiang and Jenny Rong)
  • Presentation on the Villa of Poppaea at Oplontis (Takae Goto and Yaran Cui)


Week 7: Women, children, and slaves in houses

M May 13: Women and houses

  • Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew. 1996. “Engendering the Roman House,” in I Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome, eds. Diana Kleiner and Susan Matheson. Austin: University of Texas Press. 104-115. [read only to page 112, stopping before the section on “Roman Archaeology and Gender”]
  • Allison, Penelope. 2009. “Domestic Spaces and Activities,” in The World of Pompeii, eds. John J. Dobbins and Pedar W. Foss. New York: Routledge. 269-278.
  • Presentation on the Praedia of Julia Felix (Rachel Brewer and Ruth Krishchuk)

W May 15: 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”); 73-83 (starting with “A Developmental Psychological approach…”)]
  • Joshel, Sandra and Lauren Hackworth Petersen. 2014. The Material Life of Roman Slaves. New York: Cambridge. [read pp. 27-30 (starting at “Yet slaves figured as part…”); 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”)]
  • Presentation on House of Julius Polybius (Katie Seidel and Arnulfo Ramirez)


Week 8: Public Leisure and Entertainment

M May 20: Baths and Theaters

  • Beard 241-243 (“A Good Bath”; stop before the paragraph beginning “The variety of opportunities” on p. 243), 253-259 (“Starstruck?”)
  • Edmondson, Jonathan. 2002. “Public Spectacles and Roman Social Relations,” in Ludi Romani: Espectáculos en Hispania Romana, ed. T. Nogales Basarrate. Madrid. 8-27. [read pages 9, 11-15 (starting with “Augustus and the Regulation of Seating at Public Spectacles”; stop before “Gladiatorial Presentations”)]
  • Presentation on the Stabian Baths (Kenya Morales and Sam Marsh)
  • Presentation on the Forum Baths (Kira Melander and Kori Gonzalez)
  • Presentation on the Large and small theater (Jack Thompson, Lillian Thompson, and Eric Simpson)

W May 22: Amphitheaters and Gladiators

  • Beard 259-260 (“Bloody Games”; stop before paragraph beginning “the Amphitheater”), 264 (starting with the paragraph beginning “Advertisements”)-275 (the rest of “Bloody Games” and “Heartthrobs of the girls”)
  • Edwards, Catharine. 1997. “Unspeakable Professions: Public Performance and Prostitution in Ancient Rome,” in Roman Sexualities, ed. M. Skinner. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 66-95. [read pp. 66-68]
  • Presentation on the Amphitheater (Bao Vo and Adair Warren)
  • Presentation on the House of the Gladiators (Nikita Minkin and Nathan Hills)


Week 9: Private Leisure: Sex and Sexuality

M May 27: NO CLASS (Memorial Day)

W May 29: Moral Zoning

  • Beard 233-240 (“Visiting the Brothel”)
  • 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].


Week 10: Alternative Sexualities; Death and afterlife

M June 3: Alternative Sexualities

  • Clarke, John. 1998. Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art 100 B.C.-A.D. 250. Berkeley: University of California Press. [read pages 212 (starting with the section on "Sex and Laughter in the Suburban Baths")-240].
  • Milnor, Kristina. 2014. Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [read pp. 196-200 [skip paragraph beginning “On the surface” on pages 198-199], and stop on p. 200 before paragraph beginning “It is notoriously difficult”]
  • Presentation on the Tavern of Salvius (Kellie Weaver and William Willcoxson)

W June 5: Death and afterlife [no quiz! :) ] and Review for Final Exam

  • Berry, Joanne. 2007. The Complete Pompeii. London: Thames and Hudson. [read pages 92-99]
  • Cooley, Alison and M. G. L. Cooley. 2004. Pompeii: A Sourcebook. Routledge. [read intro on page 27, and entries C9 (with short introduction before it) and C12]
  • Lazer, Estelle. 2007. “Victims of Cataclysm,” in World of Pompeii, eds. J.J. Dobbins and Peder Foss. Routledge. 607-619.


Final Exam: Tuesday June 11 8:30-10:20am, THO 125

Catalog Description: 
Explores the power differential between men and women, slaves and masters, and citizens and foreigners in the cultural melting pot of ancient Pompeii, which was preserved by a volcanic eruption in 79 CE. Graffiti, skeletal remains, everyday objects, humble and world-class art and monuments will be analyzed. Offered: jointly with ART H 347; AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:12pm