I’m off to Los Angeles next week for my stint at the Getty Research Institute. The plan is to work on Pompeii.
First of all, I’m going to be taking a serious, hard look at the traces of religious activities that have come up from the excavations (what exactly were those “lararia” for?). But that’s supposed to move on to writing a more general book. My sense is that most books about Pompeii for non-specialists don’t manage to exploit a lot of the new archaeological work that’s being done on the site. Except, of course, for studies of vulcanology. They’re always full of the latest boffin theory on pyroclastic flow, lava surges and the like – and they detail the death throes of the poor inhabitants minute by minute.
I’m intending to steer clear of death and destruction, “Pompeii the disaster movie”. Instead I want to think about what the buried city can tell us about ancient life.
The Getty Library probably owns one of the best collections on Pompeii in the world. But I still felt that I ought to go and take another look at the ruins themselves before I ended up so many thousand miles away. So last weekend, I went off to Naples to spend a couple of days on the site and at the Naples Museum.
Top of the agenda -- thanks in part to your interest in an earlier post -- were the loos (the Roman ones, that is) and the cart ruts in the streets.