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The Inscribed Ancient City: Writing and Reading in First Century Pompeii

Rebecca Benefiel, Washington and Lee University

November 15, 2019 · 12:00 pm1:30 pm · 209 Scheide Caldwell

Program in the Ancient World

What occupied the thoughts and interests of the broader population in the early Roman Empire? Without the catastrophic destruction of Pompeii, we would have barely a clue. The fragile plaster that covered the city’s walls, however, reveals a town full of personal musings and written communication: from prayers to the gods to greetings to friends, from quotations of literature to shopping lists. This talk looks beyond the monumental public spaces to investigate how writing pervaded also shops, workshops, and even private homes. Altogether, the mass of handwritten texts inscribed in Pompeii evokes an ancient city filled with people in motion, writing, reading, and going about their day. This talk discusses the who, what, and where, and explores how inscribed the ancient city might be.


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