Pompeii, the ancient archaeological site now in present-day Italy had two more walls give way on Wednesday, December 1. Slowly, this site, which gives remarkable insight into life in the Roman empire, is decaying.
In A.D. 79, an eruption from nearby Mount Vesuvius covered the city in volcanic ash and killed thousands in the city. In 1997, Pompeii became a World Heritage site. You can use this current event in your English, Social Studies, or Geography class.
Take a Virtual Field Trip
Take your class on a virtual field trip through the streets of ancient Pompeii courtesy of the Pompeii Forum Project with 360 degree images of parts of the city. Likewise, the Perseus Project has a variety of images of Pompeii.
Compare and Contrast
Guide your students as they explore the society of Pompeii. Have the students compare and contrast how this social norms of this society and how they are different from their culture and society. Have students make a list of questions they would want to know about Pompeii and then seek to find those answers on the Internet.
Mark Twain described Pompeii in a book called Innocents Abroad, which is a collection of letters describing his travels abroad. In Chapter 31, he scribes what he drew from visiting the ancient ruins. Have the students write their own impressions and their own reflections on Pompeii.
Teach the students about volcanoes and what causes them to erupt. Have students read first hand accounts of people who lived during the great eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Using their knowledge of volcanoes, have students describe what they would do if they lived in Pompeii. They can develop a Pompeii plan of action.
Pompeii and Nature
The people of Pompeii were connected with nature and used their surroundings to meet their daily needs. The people of Pompeii created cosmetics, fabrics, pottery and hunted and fished. Have students compare this with the natural resources that are available where they live.
The Roman society was very advanced with artifacts indicating that they had created hydraulic equipment, construction cranes and heating systems. Allow students to be detectives or archaeologists by letting them hypothesize about what many of the artifacts were used for. Allow them to analyze photographs and texts to draw their conclusions. See if they come to same conclusions as Pompeii’s leading archaeologists.
Edsitement: Old Pompeii (accessed on 12/2/10)
Institute and Museum of the History of Science (accessed on 12/2/10)