Sources from Pompeii & Herculaneum for everyday life health

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sources from Pompeii & Herculaneum for everyday life HEALTH

  • Water Supply & Sanitation
  • Lifestyle
  • Archaeological finds

Archaeological Finds

  • Archealogical finds encompassed body remains found both in Pompeii and Herculaneum
  • Estelle Lazer and Dr. Sarah Bisel are two archaeologists who studied the body remains at both Pompeii and Herculaneum
  • Health finds through Body remains is Keys to unlocking vital information in concerns with victims health.
  • Once-were inhabitants that occupied both Pompeii and Herculaneum through the remains of organic material, substance and artefacts.
  • It reveals that diet and activity both, leisure and competition was associated to both towns implying general health was adequate given this period of eruption on AD 79 and prior.
  • Dr. S. Bisel
  • Dr. E. Lazer
  • Plaster casts

Dr. Sara Bisel 1982 - 88

  • Is a Classic archaeologist and anthropologist contributed to unlocking information about body remains in Herculaneum. She explained “with exposure came quick deterioration”
  • Bisel revealed in her findings that a lack of children's bones was a cause of low fertility rates or they decayed quick due to being smaller.
  • Her dental studies found that teeth in body remains were quite good due to a high seafood diet which incorporated calcium, however gum disease was present depicting from worn teeth, coming from the possibility of grindstone in the bread they ate.
  • Bones that were studied is evident that lead poisoning possibly from the lead pipes caused death as well. Other uses of lead through her studies include medication e.g to treat bleeding, whiten skin, treatment of ulcers and wounds,
  • Her studies stated that all bones accounted for levels of nourishment and was a good indicator for a good diet (height of bones)
  • Consumption of animal protein while others had high levels of Strontium and other fluorides in their diets indicating diets of vegetable protein and seafood.
  • Her examinations on body remains is significant for Pompeii and Herculaneum's inhabitants and their health.

Estelle Lazer 1986 - 1994

  • Lazer’s research included statistical studies based on skulls, hips, pelivs, legs, arm bones to established the makeup of the population.
  • Through techniques of forensic medicine, physical anthropology used to determine sex, age of death height signs of disease and population affinities of the victims
  • Her work in Sydney 31st of October 1994 was the cast of a body from an early exhibition from Pompeii. “the Lady of Oplontis” was studied alongside a multidisciplinary team of radiologist, anatomist and forensic dentist.
  • Her studies indicated that 11% of examined bodies showed Hormonal disease, HFI
  • Her studies also indicated that main cause of death was asphyxiation or thermal shock
  • Lazer also examined work at house of Menander
  • Through her studies, a supportive connection through citizens has revealed information in regards to health.

The Lady of Oplontis

  • X ray was performed on 31st October 1994 in Sydney, was the first ever analysis of the victim of the eruption.
  • A cast was made from transparent epoxy resin for the purpose of visual inspection and associated artefacts including a gold bracelet on the arm of the victim.
  • No signs of dental or medical intervention. All teeth were erupted and roots were complete.
  • A healed fracture could be observed in the left radius, consistent with having fallen on an outstretched hand.
  • Studies shown that the bone had healed with some irregularity and slight arthritic change
  • X-ray of Oplontis
  • Head scan of Oplontis
  • Pelvic scan of Oplontis

Plaster Casts

  • Using the method developed by Giuseppe Fiorelli from 1863, plaster was poured into cavities at pressure forming statue like moulds of the dead body positions. Posers oif the cast reveal manner of death and time taken.
  • Photographer Peter Baxter took 41 complete casts revealing half of frozen impositions consistent of the puglistic pose from exposure to extremely high temperatures at time of death.
  • Transparent epoxy resin cast now replaces normal plaster for this produce to examine in further detail the archeaological evidence for enhanced source study.
  • Plaster casts encompasses intricate information to reveal about the health of Pompeii and Herculaneum’s inhabitants.
  • Plaster casts

Citizen Lifestyle

  • Citizen lifestyle of Pompeii and Herculaneum encompassed sport, Food and dining.
  • Citizens would produce and eat their own food including olives, wine, garum, grapes, peaches, wheat, barley, and live stock including lamb, fish, scallops and cockle. Produce was sold in markets and also exported.
  • People would exercise and compete at the Palaestra
  • Due to diet and sport, it has played a major importance of health of Pompeii and Herculaneum's inhabitants
  • Palaestras
  • Food & Dining
  • Organic Remains

Food & Dining

  • 200 public eating and drinking places have been identified in Pompeii. A Thermopolium was a common place for a snack. It had marble cover counter in a large dolia holding hot food and drinks for self serving
  • Bars and taverns well also located and identified but were clustered near entrance gates and amphitheatres for regular business. Many Pompeiians were heavy drinkers due to graffiti inscribing “ cheers! we drink like wineskins”
  • Bakeries were also common. 30 bakeries have been located in Pompeii and ovens and carbonized bread still stands today.
  • Most had 3 meals a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner accompanied by copious amounts of wine and desert either sweet (cake) or savoury (pickled onions)
  • Rich would cook their own food on a tripod heated with fire and the poor would either pay local people who owned ovens to food it for them.
  • At dinner parties people would eat lying down and be arranged in hierarchical order at the table.
  • Cookbook by Apicus with 500 recipes revealed that Romans liked their food sweet and spicy
  • On the basis of food, it is believed that the citizens had a high balanced deit with the natural resources that were available during the time overall effecting their good health.
  • Local Thermopolium
  • Dining arrangements
  • Mosaic of food resources


  • The ‘Palaestra’ was the place for exercise and encompassed physical facilities to achieve health.
  • The importance of sport can be gauged by the size of the main Palaestra.
  • The large Palaestra in Pompeii was 107 by 141 metre rectangle,
  • The Herculaneum palaestra was 110 metres and a depth of 70.
  • Palaestra had activities including athletics, wrestling, javelin and discus throwing which meant the colonnaded room was large enough for such activities.
  • Both Palaestra in both towns had pools. The Herculaneum pool were shaped like a cross, 50metres in length and cross arm was 30
  • U.E. Paoli, “Vita Romana” in Carpasso pp 35 states that it was “…like a majestic columned cella, or in a portion of a temple…all was spacious and imposing.”
  • Both Palaestra's featured statues of young men and the ideal body.
  • Through evidence the palaestra played a vital role within the health of citizens in everyday life.
  • Palaestra
  • Bronze Runner, house of the Papyri

Organic Remains

  • Archaeological evidence suggests that the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum had a well balanced and highly Nutritious diet.
  • Towns grew most of the produce and was available to purchase.
  • Many organic material were carbonized including dates, figs, prunes, almonds, chestnuts, olives, myrtle berry and whole loaves of bread.
  • 3 sources of food remains were examined: waste from food preparation, waste from latrines and remains of burnt sacrificial offerings found in the garden.
  • Such remains included olive stones, peach stones, fish bones, sheep, pig and cattle bones
  • Through the findings is bases a theory how citizens ate a wide variety of food and also held many occupations that it’s prime focus was for produce and edible resources. Farming was a primary occupation
  • This illustrates that organic material gives insight of the health of Pompeii and Herculaneum's inhabitants
  • Carbonized bread
  • Carbonized nuts
  • Carbonized Pomegranate

Water Supply

  • Water supply was a main necessity in citizen life of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
  • Citizens accessed water from numerous points within the town including
  • water fountains, fulleries Public/Private Latrines and sewerage systems.
  • Water came from the Mountain Aquaduct into water tower at highest point,
  • then gravity fed into pipes that served the towns water for pubic and private
  • use.
  • Level of sanitation was high, water availability and cleanliness contributed to the factor
  • latrines
  • fountains
  • baths

Public & Private Latrines

  • Public latrines/toilets or foricae (top left) were provided publicly at the Forum and the Palaestra. Toilets were continually flushed then waste would travel in underground pipes and sewerage systems out to the river (Pompeii) or the ocean (Herculaneum)
  • Private toilets were commonly found in houses (both bottom left, Villa Oplonti). They were flushed with either hand or continual with piped aquaducts to house. toilets often near kitchen sharing same pipeline. Toilets up to six seaters
  • Cantranella and Jacobelli state “The latrines annexed to the thermal baths in Pompeii a certain aesthetic quality.”
  • These photographs of latrines illustrates how human excrement was deposited depicting high levels of sanitation
  • Public latrines
  • Private latrines
  • (middle & bottom)

Drinking Fountains

  • fountains were a main source of drinking water.
  • There are public fountains in the streets of both towns. Pompeii has 42 excavated fountains and Herculaneum only has revealed 3.
  • Water flowed out through decorative spout as revealed in picture (bottom right). And travel through pipeline underground.
  • The House of Octavius Quartio extensively featured all range of waterworks including spouting jets, gushing waterfalls, channels, pools and nymphaeums.
  • Fountains were either accompanied with mosaics, engravings or decorative carvings to ornament the feature
  • With numerous drinking fountains located, it illustrates how citizens access to water was copious in order to maintain their good lifestyle of health.
  • Public fountain, Pompeii
  • Fresco in fountain

Visiting the Baths in Pompeii & Herculaneum

  • Visiting the baths or thermae was common in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Usually opened around midday
  • Baths were a place for relaxation, socializing & leisure activities
  • There were 5 stages that citizens followed in the baths
  • Baths found in Pompeii included Stabian bath (oldest), the forum baths, central baths and Sarno Baths while in Herculaneum there are Suburban Baths and forum baths
  • Private baths were uncommon but were present featured in the house of Julia Felix who ran a small private bath
  • Citizens brought their slaves to perform certain tasks including skin scraping and carrying clothes
  • Often baths were decorated with elegant stucco work, mosaics and graffiti with a marine theme (top right and bottom left)
  • Baths located in Pompeii and Herculaneum demonstrate the cleanliness and overall health of both towns
  • Floor mosaic
  • Decorative walls
  • Shelves in Apodyteruim
  • Apodyterium

Relaxation, Socialising & Leisure Activities

  • People would play sport, indulge in a range of therapies such as massage, stroll in the gardens , listen to music, recite poetry and have sexual activity
  • Multiple forms of pornographic graffiti would have simulated men to perform sexual activity at the baths
  • A graffito describes Apelles, a waiter dining ‘ most pleasantly with Dexter and the slave of Caesar’
  • An erotica scene within male baths
  • Roman game balls used for Harpatsum

5 Stages of the Baths

  • The first stage of the bath began in the changeroom (apodyterium) where clothes were kept on shelves. The bather would then enter the hot room (caldarium) a vaulted steamer to 40 degrees. Then the bather would go into the sweating room (Iaconium). Then the bather would travel into the normal room (tepidarium ) which was used as a transition space for adjusting temperatures. Then the bather would finish off into a cold circular bath (frigidarium) which would cool off the remaining temperature and close up the open skin pores.
  • A Frigidarium
  • An Apodyterium
  • A Heating system in the Thermae

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