Two years ago in Archaeology 320, Dr. Kaiser's Pompeii class, I became very interested in the city and the breadth of Pompeian Studies, especially in the public bathing facilities, about which I wrote my term paper. In doing research, there seemed to be a reasonable amount of study on the other complexes but a lack of information about the Forum Baths. They were frequently mentioned, but not in detail and their potential significance was overlooked. Following my time studying abroad at Harlaxton College, I got to visit the ruins before returning home. This was a bucket list item for me and I had fun finding the Cave Canem mosaic at the House of the Tragic Poet, marveling at the frescoes, and having a snack in Lucius Caecilius Iucundus' garden. Then, I visited the baths in person.
As the first baths discovered by early excavators, the Forum Baths have been written off as typical Republican baths. However, I came away questioning this interpretation. Many of the features suggest private architecture and emphasized the social aspect of bath culture over the health benefits. Returning to the States, I did some additional research on the Forum baths themselves and their circumstances. This research suggests to me that the Forum Baths of Pompeii were originally built by an entrepreneur (possibly a veteran following the Social War) and were a private establishment. This study is the basis of my Honor's thesis and I will be presenting it both at UE alongside the other Honors theses and at UNC-Chapel Hill, as part of the Eta Sigma Phi Classics Conference. I would like to have a better chronology nailed down, but I haven't found an appropriately detailed architecture report, so I guess I'll just have to go back!
Make sure you go see Amy's presentation on Monday, April 7, 2014 in Koch 100. Her presentation will start around 3:45pm, so make sure you get there in time for a good seat!