I Got a Lava Livin' to do in Pompeii
A WebQuest for 6th Grade Social Studies, Language Arts and Science
Designed by Robin McCulley and
Wall painting from Casa del Centenario, Pompeii
In 79 A.D. a volcano erupted that changed history. The people of Pompeii were actually caught unaware of the danger the mountain of Vesuvius could pose to their well being. In late August the city was bustling with activity. Housewives and slaves traded at the outdoor market purchasing items needed for their household. The baker set out fragrant loaves of bread. Farmers carefully displayed their produce (garlic, onions, cabbage, olives and dates) grown in the fertile soil surrounding Mt. Vesuvius. Chickens and goats wandered among the many statues of famous Romans, some chased by the children playing games in the streets. People walked carrying their goods since wheeled traffic was not allowed in the forum or "downtown" area.
Mount Vesuvius, which is near Naples, Italy, lay dormant for many
years with only a few rumblings. On August 24, A.D. 79 the long dormant
volcano powerfully erupted. The residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum
were taken by surprise! Hot ash and bits of lava rocks rained down
on the citizens of the city for hours until it was buried twenty feet deep.
Many people escaped, coughing and stumbling through the ash cloud
darkness. Those not fortunate enough to escape, were overwhelmed by
a sudden powerful blast of gas and ash. The buried towns were forgotten
until excavations began in the 18th century.
Could the mass devistation have been prevented? Imagine the fear the people felt, or did some think there was nothing to worry about? As people went about their daily lives, were there any warning signs before the top blasted off Mt. Vesuvius? What did they do when the eruption started? What might they have seen? Is there evidence to tell what the people of the city were doing when the eruption began? These are questions for you to answer.
While you are living during this dramatic and explosive time in history, you will keep a personal journal. Your journal will record thoughts, observations, daily chores and activities for yourself and others around you. Include information describing yourself and what type of person you are. Be sure to record any signs you feel might have forwarned the city of the impending diaster. You need to provide detailed descriptions so archelogists in the future can document life in 79 A.D., Pompeii. You will begin to write your journal in the weeks preceeding the eruption. Your entries will be the "video camera" into your daily life.
Living styles were determined by the family you were born into. If your parents were farmers, most likely you would inherit the family business and also become a farmer. Some unfortunate people were either born as slaves, sold into slavery or were captured and forced into slavery (this was 40% of the population). On the other hand, there were those born into the life of luxury who had servants and slaves waiting on their every want. It was very difficult to change your life situation. You lived within the class you were born.
Pompeii is a bustling port city of 20,000 people. Citizens through out are relaxing in the bath houses, buying and selling wares at the forum market place, participating in games at the local sports arena, reading campaign slogans in anticipation of the upcoming election, listening to speeches (some exciting and some boring!) in the government building, being entertained at dinner parties, grabbing a quick bite at the local "fast food vendor", or serving their masters wishes (8,000 people were slaves).
Before you begin to write in your journal, you must learn to which lifestyle you were born. Draw a fate card to give you your postion in life. You will draw one of the following identies:
You will be evaluated on your performance individually. Your
journal will be evaluated using the rubric below to look for the specific
requirements. You will complete this rubric evaluation on your own
to assess your own journal quality (you should be honest with yourself) before
it is turned into the teacher. This rubric is a good guide to refer
to as you work on your journal to insure it is complete, detailed and creative.
In conclusion, you now have a feel for life in 79 A.D., Pompeii. The city was a bustling place in the shadow of a mountain. Unfortunately, they were not able to understand the warnings emitted from Mount Vesuvuis. The Romans were very proud of their "modern" technology, but today we have access to so much more knowledge. Imagine living there in their time, but with 21st century knowledge. How might you have alerted the citizens of Pompeii to the impending danger? How would you get them to listen to you?
For extra credit (be sure to get your idea approved by your teacher first), you can be a journalist writing a newspaper page. You have a message you want your fellow citizens to listen to - be sure to include this information. Your page should comprise several articles. These articles could include: volcano information, advertisements from 79 A.D., Pompeii, editorials, obituaries, sports, news, and anything else found in newspapers.
Credits & References
The Ancient Rome background design came from Ancient Rome Web Designs
Books used for factual information:
Kids Discover, "Volcanoes". June/July 1993
We also wanted to thank the patient "technology techs" at Santa Barbara
County Education Office and University of California, Santa Barbara PT3
program. They are very knowledgeable, and without whose help we would
still be floundering in Pompeii.
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Last updated on (7/03/02). Based on a template from The WebQuest Page