Cities of Vesuvius

- Syllabus Content -

The range of available sources

See Chapter 4 of your text book: "The range of sources and their reliability".
"Archaeological Sources" p.37 ff; "Literary Sources" p.58 ff.

There are photographs of sources on the relevant pages of this wiki.

  • ancient writers
  • official inscriptions
  • public notices
  • graffiti

  • buildings (houses, shops, public buildings for entertainment, religion, politics)
  • other structures (walls, gates, towers, streets)
  • tombs (Via dei Sepolcri and Necropolis of Porta di Nucera)
  • wall paintings
  • statues
  • mosaics
  • other household objects
  • human and animal remains

Interpreting the evidence

from Pompeii and Herculaneum: Interpreting the Evidence, Brian Brennan and Estelle Lazer. pp. 25-26

Written sources
What kind of written source is it?
Who wrote the source or provided the information?
Would they be in a position to have special access to information?
When was the source written?
For whom was the source written?
What is the purpose of the source?
What are the limitations of the source?
How reliable is this source?

Archaeological sources
Archaeological sources that can be used by the historian include artefacts made or used by people in the past, remains of housing and building structures, the traced pattern of street plans, remains of furniture and furnishings, mosaics, paintings and statues, clothing and personal ornaments, preserved plant remains including seeds and pollen, as well as human and faunal remains. The totality of an ancient environment - natural landscape and environment as well as human activity - can provide the historian with a wealth of information that cannot be obtained from written sources. Archaeologists and historians may examine objects, artefacts (anything produced, constructed or modified by humans) such as weapons or food containers, paintings or mosaic floors or manipulated organic remains, but these individual objects cannot be called upon as evidence unless they are related to a larger picture by being placed in a context and made part of an argument. In order for us to use an artefact to reconstruct some aspect of ancient life it is crucial for us to relate the object to the context in which it was found.