Barry McNamara  |  Published November 07, 2023

Hidden Lives in Pompeii

Sienkewicz Lecture on Roman Archaeology will look, literally and figuratively, beneath the surface of city that was destroyed by eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – This year’s Thomas and Anne Sienkewicz Lecture on Roman Archaeology at Monmouth College will take a deeper look at what the city of Pompeii was like before it was utterly destroyed by Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

ALLISON EMMERSON: The Tulane University professor will deliver this year's Sienkewicz Lecture... ALLISON EMMERSON: The Tulane University professor will deliver this year's Sienkewicz Lecture on Roman Archaeology.Allison L.C. Emmerson, an associate professor of classical Studies at Tulane University, will present the seventh annual Sienkewicz Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Morgan Room on the upper level of Poling Hall. Titled “Excavating Hidden Lives in Roman Pompeii,” her talk is free and open to the public.

Pompeii has long occupied a privileged place in modern imaginings of the Roman past. Beyond the city’s well-known monuments, however, lies a well of data that has barely begun to be tapped. Emmerson’s talk will introduce the research program of Tulane University’s Pompeii I.14 Project, a new excavation that brings the most cutting-edge archaeological technologies to stratigraphic exploration below the floors, streets and sidewalks buried by Vesuvius.

A series of case studies will illustrate how the excavation team applies interdisciplinary techniques to restore the experiences of some of Pompeii’s hidden and forgotten residents: women, the enslaved and the urban poor.

A series of case studies will illustrate how the excavation team applies interdisciplinary techniques to restore the experiences of some of Pompeii’s hidden and forgotten residents: women, the enslaved and the urban poor, who might appear only rarely in traditional sources, but who shaped their town and their own lives in distinct ways.

Emmerson is a Roman archaeologist who specializes in the study of cities. She is particularly interested in the “marginal” aspects of ancient urbanism – not only literal city edges and the activities they attracted, such as waste management and the treatment of the dead, but also the people who have been marginalized both in ancient life and in modern reconstructions of it.

Her first sole-authored book, Life and Death in the Roman Suburb, was published by Oxford University Press in 2020 and was awarded the Archaeological Institute of America’s James R. Wiseman Book Award in 2022.

Emmerson was field director of the University of Cincinnati’s excavations at Pompeii and has recently co-authored the first volume of the final publication of that work: The Porta Stabia Neighborhood at Pompeii (Vol. 1): Structure, Stratigraphy, and Space (Oxford, 2023).

A Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and of the American Council of Learned Societies, Emmerson has been awarded the highest honor in teaching given at Tulane University – the Suzanne and Stephen Weiss Presidential Fellowship for Undergraduate Education.

The lecture series was anonymously endowed to honor one of Monmouth’s most broadly influential faculty members, Tom Sienkewicz, who retired as Minnie Billings Capron Chair of Classical Languages in 2017 after 33 years at the College. During his first year on the faculty, Sienkewicz founded the Western Illinois Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, which has hosted scores of archaeological lectures on campus. From 2012-17, he served the Classical Association of the Middle West and South as its chief executive and financial officer.

His wife, Anne, has been a loyal supporter of archaeology and over the years has hosted countless speakers.

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