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ART H 347 A: Pompeii: A Time Capsule of Ancient Life

Meeting Time: 
TTh 9:30am - 11:20am
ARC 160
Joint Sections: 
CL AR 347 A
Sarah Levin-Richardson

Syllabus Description:

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

Fall 2022

T TH 9:30-11:20am

ARC 160


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

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 3-4pm in person (I wear a mask when holding office hours in my office; Zoom option available, too—please email me in advance so I can set it up) and by appointment

Office: Denny 227; enter the main doors of Denny, pass the water fountain and elevator, and it’s the

first office on the left



This class explores the power differentials among individuals of different genders, legal status, and citizenship 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, enslaved individuals, formerly enslaved individuals, foreigners, and elite men) at Pompeii


Supporting your learning and well being

If you know of something that might affect your learning (technology problems; health or family crisis; religious observance) 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:

  • UW Academic Support: http://depts.washington.edu/aspuw/more/campus-resources/
  • UW Counseling Center: http://www.washington.edu/counseling/
  • Husky Health and Well-Being: http://wellbeing.uw.edu
  • Disability Resources for Students: http://depts.washington.edu/uwdrs/
    • 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 uwdrs@uw.edu or uw.edu. 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.
  • Religious Accommodations:
    • Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy . Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form .


Required Readings:

The required text for this class is listed below and can be found in the University bookstore (as well as other sites), and one copy will be available via course reserves in Odegaard. Other required readings can be found on Canvas. Each meeting in the schedule below has one or more readings to be read for that class session. For the Tuesday of Week 2, 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: 45% (to be completed on Canvas before each class)

    • Quiz on the assigned readings to be completed on Canvas before each class. You may consult only the readings and your own notes; you may not work with other individuals on the quizzes. The lowest two quizzes will be dropped.
  • Object writing assignment: 20% (due Tuesday Nov. 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, enslaved individuals). See guidelines on Canvas for more details (including your assigned category).
  • Final exam: 35% (due Wednesday December 14 by 12:20pm)
    • Essays; covers material from the entire course. 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. There will be no extra credit.


The grading scale used in this class is as follows:



Grade scale used in this class

Percentage Earned 

Grade-Point Equivalent




































































0.7 [lowest passing grade]

59 and x < 59




Further Expectations:

  • COVID and Wellness

  • No recording, photographing, posting, or distributing of course materials of any kind is permitted without my written authorization.
  • The University of Washington prohibits the selling of notes online or through any other channels.
  • Getting in touch with each other
    • Please check your UW email daily; this is how I will communicate with you about pertinent information. You are responsible for all information disseminated over email and through the course website.
    • I’m available in office hours for you! If you are anxious about assignments, please set up a time well in advance of the assignment or exam so we can discuss strategies. I’m also happy to chat about any other class-related concerns you have, or study abroad opportunities, how to follow your interest in archaeology or ancient history, etc. 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. Failure to adhere to these policies will be considered an academic integrity violation and can be reported to the Office of Student Conduct, and you might receive a zero on the assignment. If you have any questions about what is or is not allowable for an assignment, I’d be more than happy to clarify!
    • 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 for a meeting. Due to University policy, I cannot discuss grades over email.


Schedule of Topics and Required Readings:


Week 1: Introduction

Th Sep 29: Introduction


Week 2: Infrastructure; Multiculturalism and the Development of Pompeii

T Oct 4: 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”)

Th Oct 6: Pre-Roman Pompeii [complete practice quiz before class begins]

  • 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”)]


Week 3: Multiculturalism and the Development of Pompeii

T Oct 11: Roman Pompeii [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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. [read pages 28 to 32, stopping near the top of the left-hand column of p. 32, before the sentence beginning “The program of Tiberius’ agrarian reform…”]

Th Oct 13: NO CLASS


Week 4: Commerce and Occupations

T Oct 18: Commerce [complete quiz before class begins]

  • Beard 152-153 (“Profit margins”), 162-169 (“City trades”), 177-185 (“A banker”)

Th Oct 20: Occupations [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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: Politics and the Forum; Religious Practices and Identity

T Oct 25: Politics and the Forum [complete quiz before class begins]

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

Th Oct 27: Religious Practices [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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”)


Week 6: Objects and Identity; Housing and Identity

T Nov 1: Objects and Identity

  • Object writing assignment due at the beginning of class

Th Nov 3: Housing and Identity: From Work Lofts to Villas [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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”)


Week 7: Housing and Identity

T Nov 8: Frescoes and Social Status [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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?”)

Th Nov 10: Women and Houses [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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 [page 5 of the PDF], 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.


Week 8: Housing and Identity; Public Leisure and Entertainment

T Nov 15: Children and Slaves in Houses [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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”)]

Th Nov 17: Baths and Theaters [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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”)]


Week 9: Public Leisure and Entertainment

T Nov 22: Amphitheaters and Gladiators [complete quiz before class begins]

  • Beard 259-275 (“Bloody Games”; “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]



Week 10: Private Leisure

T Nov 29: Moral Zoning [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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, 39-57 [skip “Pompeii and the Historian” on pages 40-43].

Th Dec 1: Sexualities [complete quiz before class begins]

  • 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 [start with section “No place for a Woman…”]-200 [skip paragraph beginning “On the surface” on pages 198-199], and stop on p. 200 before paragraph beginning “It is notoriously difficult”]


Week 11: Death and Destruction

T December 6: Death

  • 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. [note: this reading contains pictures of skeletal remains]

Th December 8: Destruction; Review

  • 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]


Final Exam due Wednesday December 14 by 12:20pm


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 CL AR 347; AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
May 6, 2022 - 9:23pm