1996 GOALS

Advance Existing Aspects of the Project

The CAD Model

The development of a CAD model for the forum remains the central component of the Project. As discussed elsewhere, a dynamic computer model records our three-dimensional survey data, allows us to test hypotheses by combining various elements of the data in different ways, and finally permits the 3D presentation of our results. Working procedures were much the same as in 1995. We used the same electronic theodolite with a data recorder and each afternoon transferred data collected that morning in the field to a computer at the motel where we stay. Several modifications introduced in 1996 improved efficiency. These are discussed in Harrison Eiteljorg's "Pompeii in 1996" in the August 1996 issue of the CSA Newsletter. At the same time, however, problems remain for those using advanced technology in the field. Karim Hanna discusses these issues under "The Survey: Procedures and Problems."

The Eumachia Building. The 1996 survey focused on the Eumachia Building interior and the south entrance of the Macellum. As a large and complex structure, the Eumachia Building will require at least another full season to complete. This year we concentrated on the interior west wall, the stylobate (and associated step and gutter), the walls separating the porticus from the crypta (north and south sides), and the western end of the south crypta. Apart from the interior west wall, all of the areas surveyed bear evidence of considerable post-62 repair work and play important roles in determining that the Eumachia Building was extensively repaired. As much of this evidence occurs in elevation and therefore cannot be presented on a plan, the utility of a 3D model becomes obvious.

Two views of the model in progress are available:

The Macellum. The modelling of the Macellum is discussed below under "Structural Engineering Tests at the University of Virginia."

Urban Analysis

Various city-wide issues continue to be explored. One area of special attention this season was the Strada Stabiana and the manner in which its intersections received varying degrees of emphasis by the concentration in them of elements that might be called "urban furniture," i.e., fountains, shrines, arches, standpipes, etc. A discussion of these features and the manner in which the elements along the Strada Stabiana inflected pedestrian traffic toward the forum will be presented by C. William Westfall and Mark Schimmenti.

Archaeological Analysis

The close examination of the extant remains continues in order to address the most fundamental goal of understanding the forum's evolution.

Maintain and Develop Contacts with Other Research Projects

As we are one of many collaborative and individual research projects presently under way in Pompeii, we consciously attempt to meet other researchers and to share information, ideas, and occasionally equipment.

New Directions

Extend Analysis to South and West Sides of Forum

Special attention was given to the Sanctuary of Apollo and to its urban setting. Likewise, we examined the Basilica with an eye toward understanding its place in the urban history of the forum and also began a detailed study of the structures that comprise the northwest corner of the forum. It is evident from a plan or from experience on site that east flanks of the northwest buildings, the Sanctuary of Apollo, and the Chalcidicum of the Basilica are in alignment and together constitute a significant regularizing of the western side of the forum, an arrangement to which the western forum colonnade also belongs. Our interest is in pulling the individual components apart (figuratively, but also on paper and in CAD plan and model) in order to sort out their complex and interesting evolution and interconnections.

Structural Engineering Tests at University of Virginia--Modelling Part of Macellum

The south entrance and adjacent walls of the Macellum were also surveyed in order to provide a CAD model for a structural analysis being conducted at the University of Virginia. A colleague at the University of Virginia with a joint appointment in the School of Architecture and the School of Engineering, Kirk Martini, is interested in the ways modern and historical buildings behave when subjected to the forces of earthquakes and volcanoes. His engineering knowledge and his ability to bring historical comparanda to bear on Pompeian questions add an important new dimension to our analysis. (Kirk has been examining Pompeii slides and discussing these problems with me for at least two years.) During the summer of 1996 he became an official member of the Pompeii Forum Project and will join the team on site in 1997. Martini's Web site presents the research that he is pursuing as part of the Pompeii Forum Project.

In studying the history of a Pompeian building it is critical to distinguish between earthquake damage of A.D. 62 and volcano damage of A.D. 79. The recognition of earthquake damage is, of course, important in the establishment of a chronology because it proves that a building existed before 62. Likewise, a building that displays earthquake damage and subsequent ancient repair conveys information about the post-quake recovery at the site. These conditions must not be confused with damage from the Vesuvian eruption and possible modern (nineteenth century or later) repairs. It is clear that the buildings in the forum sustained serious damage as a result of the eruption. Earth tremors at Pompeii must have been more severe than those reported by Pliny the Younger at Misenum, but more serious was the destructive capacity of pyroclastic surges that emanated from Vesuvius and travelled at considerable speeds.

It is usually possible on archaeological grounds to distinguish between earthquake damage and volcano damage. One key indication is that walls with earthquake damage frequently display ancient repair and decoration. At the same time, damage to buildings in 79 may have been repaired after the buildings were excavated using techniques and materials that are indistinguishable from ancient repairs. It would be a serious error, of course, to attribute such damage and repairs to the earthquake of 62! The Macellum offers an excellent test case because the source of some of the building's damage is not entirely clear and there is some scholarly controversy concerning those difficult-to-read passages of masonry. One such area is the stretch of wall to the west and east of the south door, and the southern end of the building's east side near the southeastern corner of the building. These were the areas surveyed so that a model can be subjected to simulated earthquake and volcanic stresses.

Six views of the CAD model of the Macellum are available:

Obtain Data on Building Materials/
Bring Building Material Samples to Virginia?

Creating a model for structural engineering experiments is not a straightforward matter as the actual walls consist of various materials that, in turn, possess different densities and strengths. Information about those building materials must be incorporated into the model if it is to behave in a way that approximates the manner in which the actual building may have responded to an earthquake or to a volcano. Toward that end information about various types of building materials was gathered at the site according to specifications designated by Kirk Martini. Data forms were filled out on site and each sample was weighed and photographed. It was important to sample materials of the same types employed in the section of the Macellum that is being modelled. It was our hope that samples could be brought back to the United States. Consequently, we are grateful that the Soprintendenza granted permission to bring some samples of materials to the University of Virginia for additional study.


Is Standard Generalized Markup Language appropriate as a means for organizing, tagging, describing, evaluating, and disseminating archaeological data? We have begun to mark up some of the data according to a newly developed dtd (document type definition) and are in the process of evaluating the results.


And finally, we made a video for use in my classes at the University of Virginia.

John J. Dobbins
McIntire Department of Art
Fayerweather Hall
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Copyright 1996 by , all rights reserved
Document URL: http://www.iath.virginia.edu/ann-rpts/96/gen-intro.html
Last Modified: Wednesday, 27-May-2009 11:57:58 EDT