The Swedish Pompeii Project

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The Swedish Pompey Project

The Swedish Pompeii Project started in 2000 as a fieldwork project initiated at the Swedish Institute in Rome. The aim was to record and analyse an entire Pompeian city-block, Insula V 1. In the recording process large quantities of data and photographs have been amassed and this is the forum we have chosen to share the collected information with those interested in the details of Pompeian houses. The presentation of each room with all its features constitutes a major part of this research platform, under the heading Documentation of Insula V 1.

Some excavation took place in spots critical for the understanding of earlier phases of the city. In the course of such investigations, prehistoric (Early Bronze Age/Palma Campania) layers, including a volcanic ash layer, were encountered for the first time under Pompeii.

Created to encompass all major disciplines promoted by the Swedish Institute in Rome, our research also targets a wider contextualisation of the Pompeian evidence. Pompeii Revived is the title used to shelter studies in legacy, whereas the City Gate Seminar has the ambition to discuss the validity of historical analogies as guidance for interpretation of evidence concerning everyday life in the past in a broad sense.

Since autumn 2010 the project and its research is directed from the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University. Simultaneously a new branch of advanced digital archaeology, involving 3D reconstructions and documentation methods was added to the project agenda. The insula was scanned during the field campaigns in 2011 and 2012 in collaboration with the ISTI (Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell’Informazione "A. Faedo") in Pisa and the Humanities Lab at Lund University. The actual work in progress, carried out by the ISTI in Pisa, consists of finding a way to navigate the models easily, "naturally", and in such a way that it will be possible to freeze the image of a wall or other detail under study and link this image back to the documentation offered by this web page. The results will be presented shortly and our first 3D models are already available in open access. These are linked to the pages describing atrium and peristyle of the Casa del Torello, V 1,7.

EDITORS of Anne-Marie Leander Touati, director of the Swedish Pompeii Project and its web. Henrik Boman, editor, webmaster: structure, text and image.

Mats Holmlund, web designer: database administrator and technical support.

Questions regarding the homepage can be addressed to Henrik Boman ( or Mats Holmlund (

The Project

Contextualisation is a keynote concept in the design of the Swedish Pompeii Project. It recurs as a common ambition in all separate parts of the project.

Fieldwork in Insula V 1 The focus on context contributed to the choice of study object, a full insula instead of isolated houses, the by far more common base unit in the tradition of studies on Pompeian domestic architecture. The larger frame invites to study interrelation between the houses over time as well as the development of the separate units. When Pompeian time was arrested, Insula V 1 had known at least 250 years of urban life, during which certain moments brought major changes both in property use and in the arrangement of property boundaries. These changes should be discussed in relation to the general development of the town. Evidence related to the major events in the life of the town, proper to this insula, should be collected and commented upon, just as should all other fragments of Roman life that might still be retrieved through investigation of its ruins. The prerogative for this study is the creation of a new, accurate and thorough documentation.

The City Gate Seminar In this research, the question of context is widened. One particular city environment has been chosen for study, not only in its Pompeian translations but also elsewhere, in other places and other times. In the case of Pompeian domestic architecture and the city scape in large, such historical analogies has been used as interpretative models for the use of space by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill in his Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum (1994). In Pompeji, Archäologie und Geschichte (2005), Jens-Arne Dickmann uses examples from contemporary Naples in his attempt to visualise the close coexistence of dwellings and artisans¡¯ shops. The part of the city chosen for our seminar took its point of departure in the location of Insula V 1, not by but close to the Porta Vesuvio. It seemed natural to expect that life within the insula was somehow dependent on the goings-on in the via del Vesuvio leading to and fro the Gate. Furthermore, the city gate is an important area in any ancient city, which has not been sufficiently studied neither in its own right nor in the light of comparative study.

Pompeii revived The study of Pompeian afterlife aims to achieve three major results. One is to record ancient Pompeian material and Pompeian influences in Sweden from the 18th century to the present. Another is to discuss the motivation behind the references made to Pompeii in classicising architecture and interior decoration. The third is to put the Swedish experience in a larger, international context