Skip to Main Content

12 - Ancient History - Pompeii and Herculaneum: Introduction

Created by Alison Rout







10.1 Part I: Core Study: Cities of Vesuvius – Pompeii and Herculaneum 

Percentage of course time: 25%

Principal Focus: Students investigate the range and nature of archaeological and written 
sources available for the study of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum through an 
exploration of issues relating to reconstruction, ownership and custodianship of the past. 
H 1.1 describe and assess the significance of key people, groups, events, institutions, 
societies and sites within their historical context 
H 2:1 explain historical factors and assess their significance in contributing to change and 
continuity in the ancient world 
H 3.1 locate, select and organise relevant information from a variety of sources 
H 3.2 discuss relevant problems of sources for reconstructing the past 
H 3.3 analyse and evaluate sources for their usefulness and reliability 
H 3.4 explain and evaluate differing perspectives and interpretations of the past 
H 3.5 analyse issues relating to ownership and custodianship of the past 
H 3.6 plan and present the findings of historical investigations, analysing and synthesising 
information from a range of sources 
H 4.1 use historical terms and concepts appropriately 
H 4.2 communicate a knowledge and understanding of historical features and issues using 
appropriate oral and written forms.

Students learn to: 
• comprehend and analyse a range of archaeological and written sources relevant to the core 
study of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum 
• use sources to reconstruct aspects of life in Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79 
• evaluate the implications of gaps in the evidence for reconstructing life in Pompeii and 
Herculaneum in AD 79 
• describe and assess different methods used by archaeologists, historians and other 
specialists to investigate the sites over time 
• evaluate different representations of Pompeii and Herculaneum over time 
• discuss relevant issues of conservation and reconstruction; custodianship of the sites and 
the display of human remains 
• present the findings of investigations of key features or issues relevant to the study of 
Pompeii and Herculaneum 
• communicate effectively in oral and written forms to describe and analyse features and 
issues of the study. 

Students learn about: 
Non-examinable background 
• stages of occupation 
• brief historical overview up to and including the eruption of AD 79 
• early discoveries and brief history of the excavations 
• representations of Pompeii and Herculaneum over time 
Examinable content: 
1 Geographical context 
• the physical environment: the geographical setting, natural features and resources of 
Pompeii and Herculaneum 
• plans and streetscapes of Pompeii and Herculaneum 
2 The nature of sources and evidence 
• the range of available sources, both written and archaeological, including ancient 
writers, official inscriptions, graffiti, wall paintings, statues, mosaics, human and 
animal remains 
• the limitations, reliability and evaluation of sources 
• the evidence provided by the sources from Pompeii and Herculaneum for: 
– the eruption 
– the economy: trade, commerce, industries, occupations 
– social structure; men, women, freedmen, slaves 
– local political life 
– everyday life: leisure activities, food and dining, clothing, health, baths, water 
supply and sanitation 
– public buildings – basilicas, temples, fora, theatres, palaestra, amphitheatres 
– private buildings – villas, houses, shops 
– influence of Greek and Egyptian cultures: art, architecture, religion 
– religion: temples, household gods, foreign cults, tombs. 
3 Investigating, reconstructing and preserving the past 
• changing methods and contributions of nineteenth and twentieth century 
archaeologists to our understanding of Pompeii and Herculaneum

• changing interpretations: impact of new research and technologies 
• issues of conservation and reconstruction: Italian and international contributions and 
responsibilities; impact of tourism 
• ethical issues: study and display of human remains

Profile Photo
Alison Rout
Rae Centre, Newington College, 200 Stanmore Rd, Stanmore. NSW 2048
Direct 02 9568 9431