Skip to Main Content

ANCIENT HIS 12 - Pompeii: Pompeii HSC

Pompeii - collection of resources to support your unit of work

HSC Syllabus

10.1 Part I: Core Study: Cities of Vesuvius – Pompeii and Herculaneum 

Percentage of course time: 25%

Principal Focus: Students investigate the range and nature of archaeological and written 
sources available for the study of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum through an 
exploration of issues relating to reconstruction, ownership and custodianship of the past. 
H 1.1 describe and assess the significance of key people, groups, events, institutions, 
societies and sites within their historical context 
H 2:1 explain historical factors and assess their significance in contributing to change and 
continuity in the ancient world 
H 3.1 locate, select and organise relevant information from a variety of sources 
H 3.2 discuss relevant problems of sources for reconstructing the past 
H 3.3 analyse and evaluate sources for their usefulness and reliability 
H 3.4 explain and evaluate differing perspectives and interpretations of the past 
H 3.5 analyse issues relating to ownership and custodianship of the past 
H 3.6 plan and present the findings of historical investigations, analysing and synthesising 
information from a range of sources 
H 4.1 use historical terms and concepts appropriately 
H 4.2 communicate a knowledge and understanding of historical features and issues using 
appropriate oral and written forms.

Students learn to: 
• comprehend and analyse a range of archaeological and written sources relevant to the core 
study of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum 
• use sources to reconstruct aspects of life in Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79 
• evaluate the implications of gaps in the evidence for reconstructing life in Pompeii and 
Herculaneum in AD 79 
• describe and assess different methods used by archaeologists, historians and other 
specialists to investigate the sites over time 
• evaluate different representations of Pompeii and Herculaneum over time 
• discuss relevant issues of conservation and reconstruction; custodianship of the sites and 
the display of human remains 
• present the findings of investigations of key features or issues relevant to the study of 
Pompeii and Herculaneum 
• communicate effectively in oral and written forms to describe and analyse features and 
issues of the study. 

Students learn about: 
Non-examinable background 
• stages of occupation 
• brief historical overview up to and including the eruption of AD 79 
• early discoveries and brief history of the excavations 
• representations of Pompeii and Herculaneum over time 
Examinable content: 
1 Geographical context 
• the physical environment: the geographical setting, natural features and resources of 
Pompeii and Herculaneum 
• plans and streetscapes of Pompeii and Herculaneum 
2 The nature of sources and evidence 
• the range of available sources, both written and archaeological, including ancient 
writers, official inscriptions, graffiti, wall paintings, statues, mosaics, human and 
animal remains 
• the limitations, reliability and evaluation of sources 
• the evidence provided by the sources from Pompeii and Herculaneum for: 
– the eruption 
– the economy: trade, commerce, industries, occupations 
– social structure; men, women, freedmen, slaves 
– local political life 
– everyday life: leisure activities, food and dining, clothing, health, baths, water 
supply and sanitation 
– public buildings – basilicas, temples, fora, theatres, palaestra, amphitheatres 
– private buildings – villas, houses, shops 
– influence of Greek and Egyptian cultures: art, architecture, religion 
– religion: temples, household gods, foreign cults, tombs. 
3 Investigating, reconstructing and preserving the past 
• changing methods and contributions of nineteenth and twentieth century 
archaeologists to our understanding of Pompeii and Herculaneum

• changing interpretations: impact of new research and technologies 
• issues of conservation and reconstruction: Italian and international contributions and 
responsibilities; impact of tourism 
• ethical issues: study and display of human remains

Sydney Morning Herald Guide



Ian Finn The Kings School


The key to any strong exam response is the inclusion of specific and relevant historical evidence. This needs to be used to support your argument and has the potential to significantly improve the quality of your responses. Consider the relative contribution of various types of sources to further improve your response. This goes a long way to displaying to the marker that you have a strong understanding of the nature of Ancient History. Pace yourself in the exam and use the mark each question is worth to determine how long you spend on it.

Section I, Cities of Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum

Make sure you have examples of evidence at hand for both Pompeii and Herculaneum. When you use evidence drawn from provided sources, make sure you use it in a way that is relevant to the question.

Additionally, be aware of recent discoveries and/or developments at Pompeii and Herculaneum. This will help you demonstrate your depth of knowledge about these ancient cities.

Section II - Ancient Societies

Provide accurate information in relation to the features of the society studied, and take note of the key terms of the questions, in order to provide effective responses. For the last question, include a variety of evidence (written and archaeological) throughout your response. Remember, you need to demonstrate what the evidence 'reveals' about the society, rather than simply providing a description. Similarly, comment on the source provided, rather than simply referencing it.

Section III - Personalities in Their Times

Both questions in this section require you to explicitly support your response with evidence. Make sure you also include reference to any stimulus quote which may be provided in the question. For Part B, make sure you have made your own judgement about your 'personality', for example their impact and legacy, and use this to develop a historical argument.

Section IV - Historical Periods

Questions in this section require you to make a judgement about the period you have studied, rather than write a narrative. Choose key points that effectively support your argument and use evidence to strengthen the case being made. Include relevant and accurate historical information, which, if appropriate, focuses on all aspects of the question. Take time to plan your response before writing, in order to provide a sustained, logical and cohesive response.

Know the syllabus and content associated with each topic. Check marker feedback for previous HSC exams for insight about the features of high-quality responses.

 Past papers, marker guidelines j+

Key Search terms

answer question. GLOSSARY OF KEY WORDS CORE STUDY: CITIES OF VESUVIUS — POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM Aediles: Magistrates responsible for maintaining public buildings and spaces. Amphitheatre: An oval shaped building providing seating, entertainment venue. Atrium: Open space, central public space of Roman house and centre of religious and social activity. Basilica: Justice building. Capitolium: Temple of Jupiter – dedicated to Jupiter, Minerva, Juno, state religion. Caupona: A bar, tavern, inn. Castellum: Main water tank. Client: The subservient in a relationship who has a patron for protection and guidance. Compluvium: Square cut hole in the roof of a private house within the atrium to provide light, air, water. Dolia: Terracotta pots in thermopolia contained drinks. Dominus: Master, the head of the domus. Domus: Roman household. Familia: Roman family that lived in the household including the slaves. Forum: A public Roman space with buildings used for town gathering, official religion and trade. Fullonica: Cleaning and production of cloth for clothing, laundry. Garum: Fish sauce. Genius: God of the male line of descent, the family spirits. Impluvium: The shallow pool which collected rain water under the compluvium. © The School For Excellence 2011 Trial Exam Preparation Lectures – Ancient History – Book 1 Page 3 Lararium: Private shrine of household gods. Libertus: A former slave who has gained freedom. Macellum: Large, covered meat and fish market in the Forum. Odeon: Small theatre. Palaestra: Public exercise ground for military and youth. Paterfamilias: Highest ranking male in a family, Roman household patriarchal. Peristyle: A colonnade around an outside private garden. Pistrinum: A shop that produces and sells bread, bakery. Programmata: Epigraphic sources – election slogans. Senator: Roman who has public office within the senate of Rome. Taberna: Small workshops opening onto the street. Tablinum: Public reception area of the atrium where household records are kept. Thermae: Hot baths in a communal bath complex. Thermopolium: A shop that produces and serves hot food and drinks. Triclinium: Formal dining room in private homes containing three couches. Vestibulum: Entrance area to a private house. Villa rustica: A working farmhouse and property, often also a vineyard. GLOSSARY OF KEY WORDS WITHIN THE EXCAVATION AND CONSERVATION Insula: A block of buildings with roads surrounding. Pumice: Volcanic rock due to the air content is light in weight. Pyroclastic flow: Volcanic debris and gas flowing at a fast pace similar to a snow avalanche. Strata (singular stratum): Layers of material built up or deposited at a site. Strata (singular stratum): Layers of material built up or deposited at a site. Stratigraphic: Study of arrangement of layers of volcanic ash deposited. Tufa: A volcanic stone that is produced from the volcano. Vulcanology: Scientific study of the eruption of volcanoes.