With the generous support of Laura and James Wittman, the Earth and Environmental Systems department has invited Dr. Allison L.C. Emmerson to give a public lecture on her recent work at the archaeological site of Pompeii.
The Roman city of Pompeii, utterly destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE, has long been known for its most spectacular features: from luxurious mansions, to towering public monuments, to elaborate wall paintings and delicate mosaics. Such finds, however, provide only the briefest glimpse of the city’s full story. This lecture presents the Pompeii I.14 Project, a new archaeological excavation designed to illuminate the margins of the ancient city, not only its physical edges and the distinct activities they attracted, but also the lives of those marginalized in antiquity as well as modern scholarship. Focusing on the decidedly low-status area of an ancient restaurant and the buildings surrounding it, the project seeks to understand the people who once lived and worked in this neighborhood as well as those who patronized its businesses. By applying the most advanced technologies to traditional best practices in archaeology, our work targets those who have often been overlooked, including women, the enslaved (or formerly-enslaved), and the urban poor. The excavation team extends our view, furthermore, to the edges of the city and even beyond them, considering not only locals but also those who passed through from neighboring cities and from Pompeii’s extensive—but previously little-studied—network of suburbs.