Cities of Vesuvius

- Syllabus Content -

Everyday life: leisure activities, food and dining, clothing, health, baths, water supply and sanitation


Estelle Lazer
See “The skeletons of Herculaneum” p.54 and "Bones and Casts from Pompeii" p.57

Sarah Bisel studied the Herculaneum skeletons found in a boatshed in 1982.

Estelle Lazer has made an extensive study of disarticulated bones which were stored in the Sarno Baths.

From their studies, the remains do not seem to reflect any age or gender bias and may be taken as a reasonably random sample of the population.

Some of the conclusions Estelle has drawn from her study are:
  • She disputes the view that the victims were the women, children, elderly and infirm.
  • Poor teeth: doesn't reflect social status. Worn teeth as result of volcanic grit in bread from the millstones.
  • 10%: post-menopausal syndrome - hyperostasis frontalis. Led to obesity, tumours, facial hair.
  • Generally, the victims were in good health.

Entrance to the Sarno Baths

Surgical instruments - National Archaeological Museum
Surgical instruments have been found at 27 locations in Pompeii, for example in the House of the Surgeon. This indicates that surgical intervention was used when required. Two skulls from Pompeii show trepanation in which a small piece of the skull is removed. Healing shows that the patients survived the operation.

Surgical instruments - National Archaeological Museum