The Forum Pompeii

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The Forum

Historians consider the Forum to be the ‘centre of Pompeian life’ therefore it is an important aspect to study as numerous buildings and many events occurred there. From the latest evidence, it is believed that the Pompeian Forum was undergoing a ‘comprehensive, vigorous and ambitious post-earthquake restoration.’ (Bradley. 2005, p.87). The Forum at Herculaneum, however, is still buried under the town of Resina and therefore there is not enough physical evidence to provide a great depth of information. Studies were concentrated on the Forum at Pompeii. The Forum dates back to the 2nd century BCE. It underwent numerous alterations during the city’s history and at the time of the eruption was in the process of receiving an ambitious restoration. The Pompeii Forum was accessed through the entrance Via Marina and Via Dell’Abbondanza. The main roads from Naples, Nola and Stabiae led to the Forum. Amery and Curran describe the Forum as a ‘confused jumble.’ Pompeii’s Forum is a large oblong area approximately 40 metres wide and 150 metres long as it originally accommodated gladiatorial combat. It had significant buildings flanking it such as temples, commercial areas and civic buildings. They encompassed unique styles, built in a range of materials which was loosely based on the Greek Agora. The buildings were brightly coloured and roofed in red terracotta tiles. The flooring was paved and had colonnades along the south, east and west sides. The Pompeian people defaced the buildings with colourful painted notices, especially the Basilica. Located in the southwest corner of the city of Pompeii, the Forum operated as a multifarious centre where the most vital social, religious, political, economic and commercial activities were conducted. Citizens would meet in the Forum to discuss social happenings. It was an integral place of worship that served as a religious centre to the city’s key secular monuments. The wealthy and influential Eumachia provided the cloth industry. The Eumachia contributes to the information on economics and commercial operations. Buildings such as the Comitium, the Office of the Duumviri and the Basilica were used for political purposes. Understanding the functions and purposes of the individual buildings provides evidence of the infrastructure, cultural values, operation of the town and specific activities of the time. For example, particular food that was purchased is revealed from remains in the Macellum (market) and the range of temples that were individually dedicated to a distinct god provides religious evidence. Knowledge can also be gained from lasting statues and artefacts discovered within the Forum.

(Hurley T. Et al. 2005. Antiquity 3. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press) p46

Availability of sources and evidence
Unfortunately, the Forum in Herculaneum remains in the 60% of the city that is yet to be excavated as it lies under the town of Resina. In consequence, there is little archaeological and literary evidence available about the Forum in Herculaneum. Therefore, studies were concentrated on Pompeii to be able to gain an insightful knowledge of the Forum and its functions as a religious, commercial, economic, political and social centre. Ancient history books were a discernible source that tended to dispense more valuable and consistent information than websites. The book Pompeii and Herculaneum by the editors of Heinemann: Ancient and Medieval History, provided a well-summarised basis to begin research. Pompeii: The Vanished City by the editors of Time-Life Books was also a good starting point. However, since its publication in 1992, many archaeological theories have changed due to evolving technologies and the discovery of new artefacts increase our knowledge. To make sure that the material used was accurate, it was checked against updated information such as Pamela Bradley’s Cities of Vesuvius. This book provided well–structured and logical information that was...
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