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Paul Zanker, in a trio of essays written between 1979 and 1993, offers an archeological history of Pompeii that is informed by urban studies, with an acute attention to the architecture of both public and private spaces. He gives us a number of pos sibilities for the history of a place that evolved from a prosperous Hellenic community to a first century Roman city. This is a gorgeously illustrated book, with 21 color and 55 black and white illustrations, including photographs of the famous p laster wall paintings and tile mosaics, archeological site maps and reconstructions, and a large number of the ruins it situ. In it Zanker offers a thoughtful set of suggestions about how we might interpret what is left at Pompeii after centuries of looting and grave-robbing. The possibility of a pair of devastating earthquakes only about 17 years before the volcanic disaster further complicate what we can guess about the ruins. Zanker argues very effectively that Pompeii was a town in the m idst of an economic and cultural transition in 79 A.D. His is a fascinating discussion of how the uses of both public and private space chan ged with the influx of wealthy Romans, again during their evacuation in the time of the earthquakes, and the subsequent changes that took place in the process of rebuilding.
Our imagination is naturally ignited, as it was by poor Pliny the Elder's, by the cinematic moment of sulfuric explosion and fiery lava flow, but Paul Zanker's archeological history of Pompeii is actually even more dramatic than that, because it tak es us into the interior of the city s baths, it's theater seats, and into it's bedrooms.
The fate of Pompeii, however tragic, affords a unique opportunity to study an urban society cut short by the events of A.D. 79. Here we can see the urban fabric as it had evolved over the centuries; there the tastes and lifestyles of an urban population...Paul Zanker's book is one attempt to go beyond the obvious bricks and mortar, to produce a larger picture, in line with the increasingly rich literature of the last twenty years...This is a fascinating little book which heralds much that is now at the heart of modern debate.
— Barry C. Burnham
Paul Zanker has turned his sharp eye to Pompeii, focusing on the evolution of its townscape and domestic architecture as reflections of identity, both civic and civilian.
— Michele George
[Pompeii explains] the historical, cultural and social circumstances behind [Pompeii's] development: why certain monuments where constructed where they were, who constructed them, and how their use fit in to the cultural aspirations of the period...This is a rich and thought-provoking book that will be of interest to the students of the public and private life not only of Pompeii but of Roman cities of the early Empire in general.
— Christopher Parslow
This book is beautifully produced...[Understanding Pompeii is challenging because of the] ruinous state of the excavated city, dug too quickly, too long ago, and too poorly conserved ever since, [so] the success of this readable and intelligent account is all the more remarkable...Paul Zanker remains a terrific teacher of [Pompeii's] lessons, as well as an eloquent narrator of tales of the buried city.
— Greg Woolf
This volume describes with guidebook accessibility history's most famous ghost town...In texts and photographs, the archeologist Paul Zanker describes the evolution of public and private tastes in Pompeii, where in their homes and garden spaces the common people copied the swells and the swells copied the Greeks, or rather their own sybaritic understanding of Greek styles and values. Zanker whets our curiosity to see firsthand the remnants of arcaded shopping streets, theaters, and gymnasiums, the villas with their fabled wall paintings and lush courtyards, the evidence of the prosperous, bustling, sometimes vulgar life of this ancient city, its vitality outlasting the moment of its death for which Pompeii is more mawkishly known.
— Amanda Heller
|Townscape and Domestic Taste||1|
|Domestic Taste and Cultural Self-Definition||9|
|Urban Space as a Reflection of Society||27|
|The Hellenistic City of the Oscans||32|
|The Roman Colonists' City||61|
|Townscape and Ideology in the Age of Augustus||78|
|The City's Final Years||124|
|The Domestic Arts in Pompeii||135|
|The Origins of the Roman Villa||136|
|Two Forms of Living Space||142|
|A Miniature Villa in the Town||145|
|A Courtyard with a Large Marble Fountain||156|
|A Garden as Sanctuary||160|
|A Parlor Overlooking Diana's Sacred Grove||163|
|Gardens Filled with Sculptures||168|
|Dining under the Stars||174|
|Large Pictures for Small Dreams||184|
|Domestic Taste and Cultural Identity||192|