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Skyler Oswald

Research Paper: Pompeii

The Archaeological site that I chose for this paper is the lost city of Pompeii. The
archaeologist that first started working the site was King Charles of Bourbon in the year of
1748(Pompeii: Its Discovery and Preservation. By Dr. Salvatore Ciro Nappo). I chose this site
because it has always interested me and that there can be so much to learn from an entire city so
well preserved by the very thing that killed it. This really opens a new window into the life and
culture of the past. "Pompeii as an archaeological site is the longest continually excavated site in
the world," says Steven Ellis, a classics professor at the University of Cincinnati and the codirector of the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia.
Pompeii was first excavated by King Charles of Bourbon in the year of 1748. It was
discovered by workers who were digging the foundation for a palace for Charles III of Naples. It
took archaeologists several years before the site was identified as Pompeii (soprintendenza
Pompeii). Work was mostly concentrated on the area of the amphitheater and the Forum, as well
as around Porta Ercolano and the theatres. The site was explored systematically, linking up the
various features that had been exposed, detailed records were kept, and the wall paintings were
left in situ, rather than being detached and taken to the museum in Naples once Giuseppe Fiorelli
became director of the excavation site. Fiorelli pioneered the practice of taking plaster casts of
the victims of Vesuviuss eruption and total destruction of the town. The plaster casts better

preserve the detail of the victims which could later be used to find the cause of death and cultural
status (Pompeii: Its Discovery and Preservation. By Dr. Salvatore Ciro Nappo).
Artifacts ranged from entire villas full of art to the basic tools of everyday life, finally to
all the bodies of the people that didnt make it out of the city in time (BBC, Ancient
history article). The entire city is in a sense a giant artifact because of the conditions

that preserved it so well over time. There was sufficient evidence that Pompeii was a
culture. The architecture, uniforms of soldiers, and art work were all undeniably Roman.

The majority of the artifacts were all in the same strata due to the condition of being fixed in
place by volcanic material.
The archeological site of Pompeii as it is in the present time is the effect of
many years of excavating throughout several time periods (soprintendenza Pompeii).


Techniques of excavation have vastly improved with technology, so instead of a pick

ax and shovel to locate and possibly damaging artifacts, archaeologists can now use the latest
technology to locate buildings, people and other artifacts and dig accordingly. There is much to
learn from the site of Pompeii, such as the culture of the people that lived there and possibly
elsewhere in the Roman Empire of the time.
If I was to take over and direct the vast archaeological site of Pompeii I would try some
new excavating techniques. The first technique that I would try would be to use groundpenetrating radar or otherwise known as GPR, which is A remote sensing technique in which
radar pulses directed into the ground reflect back to the surface when they strike features or
interfaces within the ground, showing the presence and depth of possible buried features.
(Down to Earth 5th edition Archaeology) to further examine manmade remains in detail. This
technique would provide an alternative to digging the remains up and instead making it possible

to build a downsized replica to be studied while the actual artifacts are being very slowly dug
out, analyzed and dated. This would provide archaeologists to study the architecture and culture
of the city much faster and within their lifetime.
The use of ground penetrating radar may also help to interpret the way of life or culture
of the civilization of Pompeii by using the architecture and possibly remains of people and
animals. However, that method would only work to a certain point. At which point other methods
need to be used in order to do further research on the actual artifacts buried underneath the ash
and hardened lava rock that covers Pompeii (Wiley Online Library: E Pettinelli). Dating the
artifacts from the remains of Pompeii would be relatively simple and uncomplicated. The reason
for this is that the artifacts have been left undisturbed and well preserved since the day that Mt.
Vesuvius erupted and blanketed the entire city in hot ash, lava and poisonous gas as stated more
precisely by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural
organization, When Vesuvius erupted on 24 August AD 79, it engulfed
the two flourishing Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as
the many wealthy villas in the area. This also helps to place an exact date
on when the artifacts were buried and also prevented destruction of the
artifacts. Coins and most pottery would have the date of when they

Mount Vesuvius: Wikipedia.

were created stamped or carved on to the surface making it easy to date

the surrounding objects in the nearest surrounding area.
Preservation of excavated artifacts is of vital importance to the
archaeological process. Artifacts excavated would be preferably kept in a climate controlled
environment to keep from any weathering of minuscule amounts of paint or residue on artifacts.
Another essential of protecting the artifacts would be that they are kept in a facility that is

relatively safe from any and all natural disasters that could potentially destroy some or all of the
artifacts so carefully excavated.
To be a director of such a massive and astonishing site would be very stressful. The
director must oversee all of the operations in order to make sure that every action of the
archaeologist uncovering artifacts is done in such a way that nothing is broken or harmed during
the process. However, being a director of such a site would be one of the most astonishing and
fulfilling positions in the archaeological world with the possibility of having your name in
textbooks that might inspire future archaeologists to pursue that career. All in all there arent
many jobs that could surpass such a position.