02. Ancient Mediterranean, Art & Humanities, Europe, Italy

Student Series! Life in Pompeii

Student Series! Life in Pompeii

Pompeii was a lost city for many years. The remains of the city were discovered by an architect, Domenico Fontana, in the 16th century. Later on in 1997, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The remains of this city are located nearby Naples, Italy.

*Note: It’s an EASY day trip from Naples! I’ve been to Pompeii twice, summer and winter, and it was incredible each time.

So, what’s so special about this city? Well, in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, causing volcanic ash to cover the city of Pompeii. The ash covered up the whole city, and Pompeii was completely erased from the map for centuries. The ash also froze the town creating molds of the people in their final moments. These molds show us what Pompeii’s society and everyday life looked like.
The Pompeians went to work right when the sun rise. Farmers began farming, marketers started working, and all the shops were opened and the streets became very busy of citizens. In the afternoon, they might relax after a long meal, go to the amphitheater, or some other entertainment. As the sun started setting they start headed back to their houses to have supper which normally consisted of olives and eggs, and if they were upper class, meat and fish. Ancient people usually ended up going to bed pretty early, by out standards, because the streets weren’t safe at night and there were no artificial lights besides candles.


The wealthy houses in Pompeii were often arranged around a courtyard and in order to get to their house, they would have to walk through a narrow street façade that had no windows and was very ordinary. The inside of their houses were highly decorated with mosaics and fantastical frescoes covering the walls (guess it made up for the lack of windows!)
Almost all well-to-do houses included:

  • 2-3 rooms
  • Small kitchen
  • A Basin- a place to store water
  • They cooked their food by putting a pot on tripods over burning wood or charcoal
  • Very few citizens owned ovens at this time so they had to go to a Baker to bake their bread
  • A living/family room (they used this room when they would eat and/or host company)
  • A garden full of useful plants in their courtyard

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