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Shedding Light on Roman Social Life: An Integrative Approach to Domestic Space at Pompeii and Karanis

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Author: Shuler, Megan Elizabeth
Advisor: Swetnam-Burland, Molly
Committee Members: Donahue, John; Voigt, Mary
Issued Date: 2010-05-13
Subjects: Rome
Domestic Space
Classical Studies
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/2013
Description: Approaches to domestic space and daily life in the Roman world commonly focus on a single type of evidence, whether that be literary, archaeological, artistic, etc. In addition, certain sites, especially Pompeii, have been used as representative of life in the entire empire. Modern scholars are beginning to expand the focus of these studies, examining the lives of the lower classes in more detail and taking an interest in the mundane activities of Roman people. Additionally, scholars such as Penelope Allison have called for more attention to other sources, such as the artifacts found in houses, to create a more accurate picture of daily life. In my thesis, with this in mind, I look at two different, and roughly contemporary, sites in the Roman empire: Pompeii in Italy and Karanis in Egypt. My analysis consists of a critical integration of many different available sources, including archaeological remains of houses, artifacts, elite Roman literature, and papyrus documents from Egypt, in order to holistically examine the lives of the residents of each settlement. While Pompeii and Karanis are very different sites - the former is a prosperous Italian town with deep-rooted ties to Roman culture while the latter is a rural village in Egypt populated mainly by Greco-Egyptian farmers - at each site certain trends emerge, highlighting especially the adaptability of the people at both sites and their ability to make decisions and adopt strategies to support themselves and perhaps ameliorate their position in society.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in Classical Studies

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