I discovered a new historian who I want to share with the readers of this page. Mary Beard is an expert in ancient Roman history and specializes in the history of Pompeii. She is a lecturer at Cambridge. She is also a terrific narrator and I could listen to her in a classroom all day. After watching this video, you will agree with that assessment yourself. She uses the documentary to bust a few myths about Pompeii. The bones tell the story of Pompeii in a unique way.
Beard explores the poverty and the riches of Pompeii. Ancient Pompeii could be termed a combination of Las Vegas and Brighton. It was the playground of the rich. It was the popular place of the fast set. It was place where rich Romans would take their vacation. It was a place preserved by a volcano. The bodies that were preserved reveal the differences between the rich and poor of Pompeii.
In the cellars of Pompeii, the rich and the poor died together. They lived close together,trying to make their own lives. This was highlighted by the staining on the bones. The poor people had no staining because they did not have wealth to carry with them as they tried to make their escape. The rich people carried their jewelry and their coins. When they died and their bodies rotted away, the jewelry ended up staining their bones over time. The bones found in the cellar provided an opportunity for forensic specialists to study the bones. Bones in plaster casts could not be studied due to contamination.
Beard explores the jewelry that the rich wore at the time of their death. She explains what was found and explores the possibility of the rich taking their life savings with them as they tried to make their escape. Then she explores the comparisons of Pompeii to modern day Naples. Pompeii may have been cleaner than Naples as bathing was a daily part of life. There were a large amount of baths found in Pompeii. It was a great leveler of society. It was a place to escape.
If you want to learn more before you show this to a classroom continue to watch. The bones are the items that really tell the tale of Pompeii. It also shows that studying History may be more complicated than you think it is. You may want to show this documentary to older students as there are some images that are not for younger eyes. There is a discussion of sex and brothels in this documentary. You could use pieces of the documentary in the classroom if you do not want to show it all.
You can highlight, copy, and paste the questions into a Word, GoogleDoc or Google Classroom document for use in school or home school. Format it the way you want to. All questions after formatting should fit onto one page with enough space for the student to write their answers.
You can access the video here.
Pompeii: Life and Death of a City Questions
1. What two cities did Mary Beard compare Pompeii to?
2. Why was the person called "Green Bones" green?
3. Did the poor people of Pompeii have the green staining on them?
4. Where were the bodies found?
5. How long was the swimming pool?
6. What was the name of the volcano Pompeii was next to?
7. What piece of jewelry was Mary told not to wear?
8. Where did people live in Pompeii?
9. What did Pompeii have in common with Naples?
10. What was an important part of life of Pompeii?
Pompeii: Life and Death of a City Answers
1. What two cities did Mary Beard compare Pompeii to? - Las Vegas and Brighton
2. Why was the person called "Green Bones" green? - Stained by copper or bronze
3. Did the poor people of Pompeii have the green staining on them? No
4. Where were the bodies found? - Cellar
5. How long was the swimming pool? - 200 Foot/Olympic sized
6. What was the name of the volcano Pompeii was next to? - Vesuvius
7. What piece of jewelry was Mary told not to wear? - A chain
8. Where did people live in Pompeii? Above the shop
9. What did Pompeii have in common with Naples? Graffiti, Imagery on the street
10. What was an important part of life of Pompeii? Bathing
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