Study Of Archaeological Sources: The Social Structure Of Pompeii

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Archaeological sources, as well as written sources, have revealed a lot of information that helps in reconstructing our idea on the social structure as well as the roles peoples had in Pompeii and Herculaneum. There were three main social classes in Pompeii and Herculaneum including freeborn, freedman and slaves which consisted of approximately 10,000- 20,000 people. The people in Pompeii had either been permanently born and raised into a specific group or just never got the chance to change the status as it was quite difficult at the time. Both Pompeii and Herculaneum were divided up into different types of social groups which played differentiating roles, these social groups consisted of rich- landowners, merchants, artisans as well as slaves. Herculaneum and Pompeii both had a patriarchal system that was strictly led by man. Women had different treatment to men as the women were said to have had less responsibility and roles in the community, unlike the men.

The social structure of Pompeii and Herculaneum were divided up having freeborns (freedman) freedwoman) at the top of the social structure, they were at the top as they were classified to have been the highest class residents of both Pompeii and Herculaneum, they were not only high class in a social sense but also played an important political role. It is highly important to understand the importance of the clothing that they wore as it indicates their social status. They wore clothing with intricate detail as they wanted to show to the public that they were elite and of a different class to everyone else, the Freedman differentiated themselves to the rest by wearing togas and the women by wearing a Stola. to be freeborn in Pompeii and Herculaneum you must have had ancestors that were freeborn or you become freeborn through the wealthy property. The freeborn were wealthy thus they were landowners as well as businessmen, they had many rights which others did not have as these rights included things such as legal rights, what this means is that they had the opportunity of becoming candidates in the political field (office). They also had the exception of playing a role in the council in which they can dominate the communities finances, people’s spaces as well as religion. Freeborn men were very highly recognised in Pompeii and Herculaneum that statues have been made dedicated to them, they were people that influenced the community as honorary tombstones have also been made for them to honour them.

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Archaeological sources give a clear indication of the social standing of many of these freeborn men and women as a fresco has shown a freeborn man and woman enjoying a banquet, where the servants are commonly represented as not as important as their figures are small and lower. In Pompeii women played a role in which they were expected to take care as well as to run the households, taking care of their children, as the woman also had to manage their finances at all times. Although high-class women had a different role in society they were still not to participate in political office. They were classed to their legal administrators through their fathers and husbands; thus, they would belong to whichever social class their husband or father belonged to.


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