Stories of Stuff – from Pompeii

March 18, 2016  7:15 pm to 9:00 pm

Friday, March 18, 2015. Professor  J. Theodore Peña (UC, Berkeley) will present “Stories of Stuff – from Pompeii” (7:15-9:00 PM, at SDSU, Arts & Letters 101).

In this talk, 2015/16 Joukowsky Lecturer for the AIA, Prof. Peña, discusses the results of the first four seasons (2012-2015) of the Pompeii Artifact Life History Project (PALHIP), a long-term research initiative being carried out under the direction of the speaker that aims to enhance our understanding of the life histories of the various kinds of portable objects commonly found in a Roman town.  Rather than excavating, PALHIP focuses on the detailed analysis of selected sets of artifacts recovered in earlier excavations with a view to shedding light on patterns in the manufacture, distribution, acquisition, use, maintenance, reuse, and discard of these items.  To date, the PALHIP team has initiated and in some cases completed the analysis of four such sets of materials.  These include the in-use artifact assemblage from the Villa Regina a Boscoreale, a farmhouse situated 1.3 km to the northwest of the town; a set of dolia (large storage jars) from the vineyard inInsula 1.22; refuse from cesspits under the sidewalks and on the surfaces of the streets that flank the Insula of the Chaste Lovers (Insula 9.12); and refuse from large trash middens dumped against the exterior face of the town’s fortification wall between Tower 8 and the Nola Gate.  In order to communicate some idea of the results obtained the talk will focus on the close-up examination of several of the more interesting objects that we have studied to date, showing how through the careful study of the condition of an artifact it is possible to draw inferences regarding its life history.

Some accessible online materials about Pompeii available here: Soprintendenza Speciale per I Beni Archeologici Pompei Ercolano Stabiae (Website of the regional office of Italian antiquities service responsible for Pompeii, English version.) @; Blogging Pompeii @; and Pompeii in Pictures @

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