Evidence from Pompeii – Pompeiians at giraffe (Newser.com, 4 Jan 2014)


This is an interesting article from Pompeii.
What does that suggest about the dietary habit of the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as their overall living standard?

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2014 3:45 PM CST

Researchers digging around the drains of ancient Pompeii have learned about some unusual Roman eating habits. The scientists found the remains of a giraffe and sea urchin in the drain of a onetime restaurant, LiveScience reports. “This is thought to be the only giraffe bone ever recorded from an archaeological excavation in Roman Italy,” researcher Steven Ellis, of the University of Cincinnati, says.

“How part of the animal, butchered, came to be a kitchen scrap in a seemingly standard Pompeian restaurant not only speaks to long-distance trade in exotic and wild animals, but also something of the richness, variety and range of a non-elite diet.”

Indeed, the research contradicts the idea that less-wealthy Romans were a “mass of hapless lemmings” desperate for anything to eat. The team dug up some 20 shop fronts, finding food and human waste in cesspits and latrines. The oldest finds dated to the third century BC; spices came all the way from Indonesia, reports the Daily Mail, which has photos of the excavation.

(Source: Newser.com, 4 January 2014)


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Key Enquiry Questions (analysis)

OK.  These are the key enquiry questions in Extension History.  Your exam questions, no matter how varied, will revolve around one of these enquiry questions.  In this blog post, I will go over them within the context of Question 1.  This is the ‘What is History?’ section.

1) Who are the historians?

This question is often rephrased as

  • What should be the role of historians?  OR
  • Evaluate the role of historians (in the construction of history)?
  • ‘In order to understand history, we must study the historians.’  Evaluate this statement.

2) What are the purposes of history?

Other ways of rephrasing this question would be, for example,

  • For what ultimate purpose(s) should history be written for?  Should it be …
    • To reveal or interpret the past as accurately and authentically as possible?
    • To provide a solid basis upon which communities or individuals can build their identities?
    • To challenge unjust systems, whether it be capitalism, colonialism or the patriarchy?
    • For ‘entertainment’?
  • You shouldn’t be describing, but show the ability to evaluate the problem with each supposed purpose of history.

3) How has constructions of history changed over time?

It can also be phrased as

  • Why has constructions of history changed over time?
  • Think about things like
    • History as a narrative (Rankian, most common)
    • History as films
    • History as social science analysis
    • History as monuments
    • History as oral history

4) Why have approaches/interpretations to history changed over time?

The key focus here is to link it the context of the particular interpretation.

For example,

  • Reeves came after the Camelot historians, and was growing disillusioned with America’s war in Vietnam, like many other Americans of his time.
  • Herodotus wrote his work in the shadow of Homer.
  • Tacitus wrote his work in the context of imperial excesses of the emperor and the impotence of the Senate.


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Resource for History Extension – Robert Winks, introductory chapter, historiography of British Imperialism

Bibliographical reference:

  • Robin W Winks (ed.), British Imperialism – Gold, God, Glory (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Wilson, 1963)

Introductory chapter (Winks – Intro)

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At the Ancient Theatre in Pompeii

At the Ancient Theatre in Pompeii

At the Ancient Theatre in Pompeii

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by | April 17, 2014 · 4:20 pm

Research on Tutankhamun uploaded (Year 11 Ancient History)

These are the group projects on different parts of the tomb of King Tutankhamun.  It will be useful for preparation for Year 11 Ancient History class assessment task.

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Archaeological sources on Sparta

LeonidasMany students of Sparta in high schools focus exclusively on written sources, particularly Plutarch.  Aside from the fact that most written sources on Sparta have historiographical problems, it is also not balanced, since there are archaeological sources as well.

This powerpoint will take you through the archaeological sources on Sparta, most of which were found at the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia.

My advice is where possible, focus first on archaeological sources, then the limited “primary” sources, then the “secondary sources”.  (I’m inclined to call Plutarch and Aristotle ‘fourth-hand’ sources.)


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Sample introduction to an essay response (Tiberius Gracchus)

Essay question: Assess the methods of Tiberius Gracchus as Tribune of the Plebs.  


Tiberius Gracchus’ tribunate has been commonly associated with the beginning of the downfall of the Roman republic.  Cicero charged him with acting out of invidia towards the senate and destroying the harmony of the republic.  This judgment has been echoed by subsequent modern historians like RE Smith who argued that Rome might have had a happier outcome if Tiberius Gracchus had chosen different methods to achieve his goals, Mommsen, who saw in Tiberius Gracchus a tribune driven by altruistic ideals but whose methods were radical and dangerous.  However, the case against Tiberius Gracchus’ methods rest upon ignoring the contributions by those who opposed Tiberius Gracchus towards the crisis that faced Rome, leading to unfair accusation of Tiberius Gracchus’ methods being the cause of the downfall of the republic.   This paper will set out to assess Tiberius Gracchus’ methods used in passing, implementing and defending his land reform bill in the light of the opposition that confronts Tiberius Gracchus.

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