Pompeii Critical Context - Essay

Nancy Ruth Miller

Critical Context

Pompeii: Exploring a Roman Ghost Town unites the study of history with the discoveries of archaeologists. The book shows the many specific parts that make up a civilization and the care necessary in the excavation of such a complex site. Each excavated item gains significance when it is fitted into the whole, and the whole gains actuality from the tangible parts. Pompeii can supplement historical studies because it reveals the multiple sources from which historians must draw in order to create a complete and valid assessment of a past civilization. Those interested in the discoveries of other ancient civilizations may want to read Robert Silverberg’s Lost Cities and Vanished Civilizations (1962) and Malcolm Weiss’s Sky Watchers of Ages Past (1982).

The Goors’ interest in Pompeii may have originated during their travels in Italy. To Ron Goor, Pompeii offered an opportunity to use photography to depict the objects of Pompeii. Through these objects, the life of the people of the city can be reconstructed. Other books by the Goors in which photography plays an integral part include Shadows: Here, There, and Everywhere (1981), an American Library Association Notable Book, and In the Driver’s Seat (1982), a Junior Literary Guild selection. Insect Metamorphosis: From Egg to Adult (1990) stems from the Goors’ earlier work with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, where they created an insect zoo.