Teacher guide

What was life like in a typical town in the ancient Roman Empire?

This unit of work, designed in response to this inquiry question, is constructed around five resources. The unit is also organised under the key inquiry questions outlined in the Australian Curriculum, Ancient Civilisations.

How do we know about the ancient past?

One of the best sources for our knowledge of how an ancient Roman city operated is the beautifully preserved city of Pompeii. The eruption of the volcano, Vesuvius, in 79 CE froze this sophisticated flourishing city in time. Archaeologists have been able to release the city – and some of its people – from the ash that covered it.

Recreation of Vesuvius Erupting allows students to understand the layers under which the city was buried and how archaeologists have worked to preserve the remains.

What emerged as the defining characteristics of ancient societies?

Pompeii Today includes still images of the Pompeii site as it appears to visitors today; these enhance students' perceptions of what an ancient city looked like and how it functioned.

House of the Vine is a fly-through of a typical house which allows a detailed study of the layout, decoration and function of each room.

A Slave's Eye View activities will enable students to gain an insight into how a typical Roman city operated by analysing the illustrations depicting five key areas of Pompeii which are typical of towns in this time: the port, the bath house, the market, a city street and a busy private house. A set of four video interviews with slaves working in the town gives students a starting point for an investigation of the role of slavery in the ancient Roman Empire, the conditions in which slaves lived and questions about the ethics of slavery.

What have been the legacies of ancient societies?

Pompeii Today, with images of Pompeii as it appears to the visitor today, allows students to investigate the question of the preservation of ancient sites.

As students conduct inquiries they will identify a range of questions using historical terms and concepts and specialist vocabularies. They will locate relevant ICT sources and develop texts using ICT technologies.

Suggested activities suitable for Year 7 History are provided for each of the resources. The activities are based around the inquiry pedagogy which underpins the Australian Curriculum. In particular they use the Critical and creative thinking model in the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. This model has been adapted for ease of use by both teachers and students.

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