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Comparison of ancient Roman Pompeii and modern society

Comparison of ancient Pompeii and modern society is a difficult one to make, yet not impossible. By all accounts life in a Roman provincial city wouldnt have been an easy step for us to make as inhabitants of the 21st century, perhaps closer as inhabitants in pre-industrial revolution times, eg 16-17th century Britain. It was certainly exotic in many ways but I am personally certain that it would prove easier than a jump into some countries today or into the middle ages.

Recent scientific research on the bones excavated in pompeii has also yielded surprising results which we can glibly summarise by saying that Pompeian society suffered worse oral hygiene but otherwise had very similar issues in terms of obesity through lifestyle, similar average height of individuals to people living in that region today and most surprisingly a longer life expectancy than we have previously believed (though still unlikely to be the same as ours).

What better than to challenge ourselves than to start with a list of similarities and differences (the approach is rather loose but you have to start somewhere!):

Similarities between Pompeii and "the modern world".

Differences between Pompeii and the modern world

In setting the title I have cheated a little. But I have cheated so that I could make a point: What do we consider as "the modern world"? When we speak of Pompeii we span an age from the 2nd Century BC to the 1st Century AD. Even if we start with Roman domination of the city we easily cover the best part of two centuries.

If we were to ask the same question some 2 centuries ago (reputedly the beginning of the modern age, with the industrial revolution) I would suggest that many of the items which are in the "Differences" list would likely be in the "Similarities". For example "Emancipation of women" was at about the same point. "Slavery". Hmmm, lots of children forced to work in unhealthy conditions "Value of human life": lets take a look at the colonies built in the past centuries or perhaps some countries nowadays accused of using child labour

A final interesting comparison is how Pompeii was the classic example of the simple and perfect bucolic life described by poets such as Virgil, Horace and others of the Augustan age: A similar literary vein existed in Victorian Britain might we see such a dream resurge as people tire of the stresses of city.

The above notes are only a start, please write us any views and ideas you may have to progress the difficult subject of comparing ancient Roman society and life in Pompeii to the modern world.

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"ancient pompeii" was written by Giovanni Milani-Santarpia for - Rome apartments