This event will take place on Saturday 16 October at the Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LU, at 10:30 a.m., featuring talks by Professor Estelle Lazer of the University of Sydney and Dr Erica Rowan of Royal Holloway College, London. Abstracts follow below.
To obtain the Zoom link, and RSVP if you wish to attend in person, please email [email protected].
Prof. Estelle Lazer, ‘Preserved in Ash: Victims of a Mass Disaster’. The Pompeii Cast Project is a collaborative project between the University of Sydney and the Pompeii Archaeological Park to X-ray and CT scan the casts of the victims to study the skeletons that are encased within the plaster. The first casts of the forms of Pompeian victims of the AD 79 eruption of Mt Vesuvius were successfully achieved under the directorship of Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1863. To date, 106 individuals, including a dog, a pig and a horse, have been cast by restorers and archaeologists during the course of excavation. The methods used to obtain these casts were not well documented. It was always assumed that plaster or lime cement was merely poured into voids which preserved the impression of organic remains buried in the ash that covered the site during the catastrophe. It was also assumed that the undisturbed skeletal remains of victims were encased within the casts. The initial aim of the Pompeii Cast Project was to study these bones to build on and test the results of an earlier study of the large sample of Pompeian human remains that were not able to be cast and had not been stored well. Apart from providing information about the people who did not manage to escape the eruption, the project aimed to challenge previous interpretations of the lives and activities of these victims that were solely based on superficial inspection and circumstantial evidence. What was unexpected was the discovery that there was as much art as science in the creation of these casts. The study has been expanded to include research into restoration and archaeological practice in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Dr Erica Rowan, ‘Diet and Daily Life in Herculaneum: The Finds from the Cardo V Sewer’. This paper will explore the bioarchaeological remains from the Cardo V sewer, which ran beneath the shop/apartment complex of Insula Orientalis II in Herculaneum. The sewer was excavated by the Herculaneum Conservation project in 2006 and the analysis of the finds represent the first large scale study of food and diet in the town. A huge array of plant, fish and shellfish species were found, indicating that the non-elite inhabitants of Insula Orientalis II had a flavourful and varied diet. Subtle differences in diet are observable within the sewer assemblage, most likely related to differences in wealth. The variety of cereals, fruits and seafood indicate close connections with the nearby land and sea and consequently, the economic implications of such extensive resource exploitation will also be considered.