What were the occupations available in Pompeii?

Travel Destinations

By Erica Silverstein

Occupations in Pompeii

Pompeii was a bustling city in the Roman Empire, located near modern-day Naples in Italy. Its economy was diverse and supported by a variety of occupations. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD preserved much of the city, including its buildings and artifacts, giving us a glimpse into the daily lives of its inhabitants. In this article, we explore the various occupations available in Pompeii.

Agriculture: Farming in Pompeii

Agriculture was an essential part of Pompeii’s economy. The fertile soil of the surrounding countryside allowed farmers to grow a wide range of crops, including grains, grapes, olives, and vegetables. Some farmers owned their land, while others worked as laborers. They used primitive tools such as sickles, hoes, and plows to work the land. In addition to farming, some also raised livestock, such as sheep, goats, and pigs.

Trade and Commerce: Economic Activities

Trade and commerce thrived in Pompeii due to its strategic location near the Bay of Naples. The city was a hub for the transportation and distribution of goods, with merchants selling all kinds of wares, from textiles to pottery. Pompeii also had a bustling port, where ships from all over the Mediterranean would dock. As a result, the city became a center for international trade, with merchants from different parts of the Roman Empire setting up shop.

Artisans: Skilled Craftspeople

Pompeii was also home to many skilled artisans who worked with various materials such as wood, metal, and clay. They used their expertise to produce a variety of goods, such as jewelry, furniture, and household items. Some artisans were specialized, such as glassblowers and potters, while others were generalists who could create a variety of objects. These craftspeople sold their goods in the city’s markets and workshops.

Public Service: Government Work

Pompeii had a well-organized system of government and public service. The city had a council of 100 members, who were elected by the citizens and served for one year. They were responsible for managing the city’s affairs, such as finance, public works, and law enforcement. Pompeii also had a police force, called the vigiles, who were responsible for maintaining public order and fighting fires.

Entertainment: Performers and Spectacles

Entertainment was an important part of life in Pompeii, and the city had many theaters and amphitheaters. Performers such as actors, dancers, and musicians entertained the crowds with plays, concerts, and other shows. The city also had a large amphitheater, where gladiators fought and wild animals were exhibited. These spectacles were popular among the citizens, and the amphitheater could hold up to 20,000 people.

Manufacturing: Industrial Production

Manufacturing was also an important part of Pompeii’s economy. The city had many workshops where goods were produced on a large scale, such as textiles, pottery, and glassware. These workshops employed many workers, who used specialized tools and equipment to create their products. The products were then sold in the city’s markets, or exported to other parts of the Roman Empire.

Domestic Service: Housekeeping and Nannies

Domestic service was a common occupation in Pompeii, with many households employing servants to help with housekeeping and childcare. These servants included cooks, maids, and nannies, who were mostly women. They were responsible for preparing meals, cleaning the house, and taking care of the children. Many of these servants were slaves, who were owned by wealthy families.

Food Service: Restaurants and Taverns

Food service was also an important part of Pompeii’s economy, with many restaurants and taverns serving the city’s inhabitants. These establishments offered a variety of food and drink, such as wine, bread, and fish. Some taverns also offered lodging for travelers. These establishments were frequented by people from all walks of life, from wealthy merchants to humble laborers.

Religion: Priesthood and Worship

Religion played a significant role in Pompeii’s society, and the city had many temples and shrines dedicated to different gods and goddesses. The city also had a large priesthood, who were responsible for managing the temples and performing various religious rituals. These priests were highly respected and had significant influence in the city.

Education: Teachers and Schools

Education was also important in Pompeii, with many schools and teachers offering a variety of subjects, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Wealthy families would hire private tutors for their children, while others attended public schools. Some of these schools were specialized, such as those for gladiators-in-training.

Transportation: Moving People and Goods

Transportation was crucial in Pompeii, with many people and goods moving in and out of the city. The city had a well-developed road network, with paved streets and sidewalks. People could travel on foot, by cart, or by horseback. The city also had a large port, where ships could dock and load and unload goods. The transportation industry provided many jobs in Pompeii, such as cart drivers and shipbuilders.

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Erica Silverstein

Erica, a seasoned travel writer with 20+ years of experience, started her career as a Let's Go guidebook editor in college. As the head of Cruise Critic's features team for a decade, she gained extensive knowledge. Her adventurous nature has taken her to Edinburgh, Australia, the Serengeti, and on luxury cruises in Europe and the Caribbean. During her journeys, she enjoys savoring local chocolates and conquering various summits.

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