Syracuse University

SU News

Wabash professor explores photography's impact on Pompeii excavation Oct. 5

September 30, 2011

Rob Enslin
(315) 443-3403

The excavation of an ancient street in Pompeii is the subject of an upcoming lecture at Syracuse University. Jeremy Hartnett, assistant professor of classics at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., will present “Excavation Photographs and the Rediscovery of the Via dell’Abbondanza at Pompeii” on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 5:30 p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons on the first floor of E.S. Bird Library.

hartnettThe event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Syracuse Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), in conjunction with the SU Humanities Center. For more information, contact Gloria Hunt at

Hartnett’s presentation centers on Vittorio Spinazzola, an Italian archeologist who excavated Pompeii from 1911-1923, and was among the first to use photography to scientifically record the unearthing process. Known for his careful, systematic work, Spinazzola devoted considerable time to unearthing and restoring portions of a main thoroughfare called the Via dell’Abbondanza (Street of Abundance). The result was an exposed patchwork of paintings, graffiti, facades and balconies that revealed life in this Roman town, annihilated by a volcanic eruption in A.D. 79.

Spinazzola spent the end of his life publishing a book about the excavation, containing more than 600 photographs and two dozen lithographs. Allied bombings during World War II destroyed not only the publishing house—along with every single copy of Spinazzola’s book—but also large portions of the Via dell’Abbondanza, making Spinazzola’s archival efforts all the more enlightening.

The first part of Hartnett’s lecture considers how the use of photography has changed the presentation of the excavator and his work. The second part concentrates on Spinazzola’s excavations and what they reveal about life along one of the most colorful and vibrant streets of Pompeii.

A Wabash faculty member since 2006, Hartnett specializes in Herculaneum, Pompeii and the Bay of Naples; Greek and Roman art and archeology; architecture and urbanism; and Latin language and literature. He is the author of numerous scholarly publications, including the forthcoming book “Streets and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum.” He earned a Ph.D. in classical art and archeology from the University of Michigan.

Recent News