GRC30090 Art and Architecture in Pompeii

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module examines the art, architecture, and history of Pompeii from the late 2nd century BC to the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. It examines the Forum, the Theatre Quarter, and the Amphitheatre and traces the building history and urban development of Pompeii from its origins to the Early Imperial period. It also focuses on domestic architecture and wall painting, most of which show subjects from Greek myth. It examines the extent to which Pompeian wall painting copied Greek originals, and how panel paintings of Greek myths could be arranged within a house to form a programmatic message. The module also studies graffiti and inscriptions, a major body of evidence for the social history of Pompeii, its internal politics, and its links to elite patrons in the city of Rome.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
- recognize the main public buildings and selected domestic buildings in Pompeii
- recognize the canonical 'four styles' of Pompeian wall painting and key examples of mythological panel painting
- interpret the written documentary evidence from Pompeii, in particular the different categories of inscriptions
- understand the social structures of Pompeii, in particular the career paths for elite men and women and their freedmen
- evaluate the extent to which art and architecture can form programmes, either in the choice of paintings for a house, or in the urban development of public spaces

Indicative Module Content:

1. Pompeii and Herculaneum
2. Living in an Old City
3. Public Buildings
4. Housing and Households
5. Programmatic Painting
6. Medea and the House of Jason
7. Paintings of Achilles
8. Public Office and Electioneering
9. Social Status, Networks, and Mobility
10. Excavation History & Overview

1. Introduction to the Forum
2. Epigraphy and the Constitution
3. Dinner with Trimalchio
4. Wall Paintings in the Forum
5. Leisure, Entertainment, and Civic Ritual

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Combines lectures and small group teaching, with a strong focus on the interpretation of visual evidence. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: Final examination 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Assignment: Choice of (a) in-class slide test or (b) written assignment Week 9 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Group feedback on class test, with individual feedback on request. Individual feedback on written assignments.

• M. Beard, Pompeii: the Life of a Roman Town (Profile Books 2008)
• A. E. Cooley and M. G. L. Cooley, Pompeii and Herculaneum: a sourcebook (Routledge 2014, 2nd edition)
• A. E. Cooley, Pompeii (Duckworth 2003)
• J. J. Dobbins and P. W. Foss, The World of Pompeii (Routledge 2007)
• R. Laurence, Roman Pompeii: space and society (Routledge 1994)
• R. Ling, Pompeii: history, life and afterlife (Tempus 1998)
• P. Zanker, Pompeii: public and private life (Harvard 1998)
• A. Wallace-Hadrill, Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (Princeton 1994)
• A. Wallace-Hadrill, Herculaneum: Past and Future (Frances Lincoln 2011)
• A. Zuiderhoek, The Ancient City (Cambridge 2017)

Name Role
Assoc Professor Alexander Thein Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Wed 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31 Mon 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Mon 11:00 - 11:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31 Tues 14:00 - 14:50
Tutorial Offering 4 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Tues 14:00 - 14:50