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Examining the Evolution of Archeological Methodology Used Regarding the City of Pompeii - Essay Example

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Examining the Evolution of Archeological Methodology Used Regarding the City of Pompeii

This second site was the remains of the city Pompeii. Today, efforts to uncover Herculaneum have been all but abandoned - the towns Portici and Resina now reside over the buried remains - while Pompeii has continued to garner global attention for several centuries. Over this length of time a number of archeologists have made significant advances in it's reclamation through an evolution of approaches and methods. This paper will examine four of the archeologists who have had the greatest impact on the findings.
Modern findings related to Pompeii itself dates roughly back to around 1860, when Italy became one more settled as a united country. At this point Giuseppe Fiorelli was appointed inspector of the site (later being made superintendent) and took control of renewed excavation efforts. Fiorelli was frustrated by previous haphazard methods of excavation and demanded that proper mapping methods be used to document the area correctly. Most importantly, Fiorelli's discovery that the city's victims interred in the ash had physically decomposed some time ago, leaving impressions in the surrounding ash. These impressions were so exact that plaster, poured into the remaining mold, cast an exact replica of the deceased down to the details of facial features and expressions. This was the first important step in the history of Pompeii's reclamation, as the replicas' immediacy in presence added a dimension of humanity to the entire site. Driven by an intense interest to learn more about the citizens, Fiorelli began searching for information about individuals. He was able to discover certain resident names by unearthing letter seals at some structures and, while these lucky finds were inscribed with actual names, such obvious finds were few. Instead, Fiorelli's assistant Matteo Della Corte realized that Pompeii's disaster had happened near the city's election time. Using the carefully recovered election signs and graffiti, the archeologists were able to piece together the names of some fifty people. Fiorelli's efforts laid the groundwork for future digs, having mapped out the underlying structure of a large part of the area. Yet his most important contributions were two fold: 1) he preservation through cast molds of the individual citizen remains and 2) his efforts to not only give faces to the victims, but names as well piquing future interests by establishing a direct empathy relating to the victims.
The next significant archeologist was Vittorio Spinazzola, who worked the site from 1910 until 1923, when he was withdrawn from the project because of deprecating remarks against Mussolini. Spinazzola's goal was to completely uncover the main thoroughfare known as Porta of Sarno in an attempt to unite the routes leading from the amphitheater to the southern area of the city i.e., clearing one area of the city rather than dividing efforts. Like Fiorelli, Spinazzola viewed the victims as individual people, wanting to pay special attention to preserving the signs and other writings on the walls. However, the process of clearing the roads made the walls unstable; structures had to be excavated from within as well in order to buttress the walls. This process revealed beautiful interior mosaics, individual proclivities, ad operations of such businesses as laundries, bakeries, taverns, et cetera operations that had been suspected but never confirmed. While this ...Show more


Tradition holds that the ancient city of Herculaneum, located at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius, dates back to the 6th century B.C. The eruption of 79 A.D. buried the city beneath 60 feet of lava and ash, leaving the city's remains hidden until accidental discovery in 1709…
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