In the autumn of AD 79 on the Bay of Naples, a cataclysmic eruption of the volcano Vesuvius buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and lava, freezing them in time until the early modern era. Rediscovered in the eighteenth century, these sites yielded from their depths art and artifacts that reawakened interest in the ancient world on a grand scale. Aristocrats from all over Europe flocked to the ruins on their “Grand Tours,” impelled by romantic notions of the past and dreams of plunder. By the twentieth century, modern techniques of archaeological investigation replaced treasure hunting as the main method of exploration of these buried sites, but the romance of the ruins still looms large among scholars and tourists alike. Today the ruins scattered across the Bay of Naples continue to offer an unprecedented look at daily life in an ancient town, and study of its art and archaeological remains thus provide much insight into the society and culture of the Roman Republic and early Empire. This class therefore revolves around the material remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum and uses them as a jumping off point for the investigation of themes and issues related to ancient Roman art, culture, religion, politics and urbanism. We will also explore the rediscovery of the site in the 1700’s and consider the reception of Roman art and architecture in the early modern period and its continuing legacy in the present day.
Find us on…