Authors Name: 
Annelies Van de Ven
University of St Andrews
Classical Studies & Archaeology
Highly commended

Pompeii Uncovered: A History of Repression

This essay approaches the interpretation and view of Pompeii from a cognitive and psychological viewpoint, examining how modern standpoints, whether Victorian or 20th century, have influenced the understanding of the ancient site. Through an examination of a range of materials, from plaster casts to nineteenth century fiction, I have created an arguement for the way the past is approached through our own constructions of culture, religion, and fantasy. Employing a number of literary and visual sources of both the ancient material and various aspects of modern scholarship, multi-discipline theory, and interpretation, the meanings ascribed to Pompeii by our own society were analyzed. The various levels of symbolism show Pompeii to be a dynamic site, not just one frozen in history as we now often see it. Its significance is determined by the context in which it is interpreted, with each age changing the view we have of the long lost city.