The infrequent and rambling thoughts of Paul Howse...

Pompeian Culture: An Augmented Reality Module

The following is a module I have prepared for a Stage 6 Ancient History class on the ancient city of Pompeii.

Class: Stage 6, Ancient History.


This module assumes that students have access to computers in class and the basic competency to learn how to use the augmented reality programs online.

The syllabus requires approximately 30 hours to be dedicated to learning about Pompeii. As such, the current module, which covers only about two and a quarter hours, forms only a small segment of the total study. It is expected that this module will commence after an initial period of instruction lasting for a few classes, in which the students will gain a basic understanding of the history of the city of Pompeii, its destruction and preservation.



In this series of 3 lessons students will be given the opportunity to explore an overview of some aspects of culture and society of the city of Pompeii. Students will be set the task of constructing a virtual museum exhibit about these cultural aspects of Pompeii, using augmented reality tools available online to embed rich media and displays of object files to construct the exhibits. Students will record voice-over tracks to situate their chosen exhibits in the overall narrative which collectively constructed. At the conclusion of the 3 lessons the museum exhibition will be available for viewing by other members of staff, students, and parents should they so choose.

The module is intended to give the students a feel for the life of those people who lived and died under the shadow of Vesuvius. Such insights will enrich the more in-depth source criticism that occurs in later modules regarding Pompeii. Furthermore, the construction of this exhibition ought to provide the students with a visceral image of the life and death of the city, hopefully sparking an enthusiasm for the subject and an empathy with the peoples who lived and died there.



All objectives have been taken from BOSTES (2009).

Knowledge and understanding:

H1.1. Describe and assess the significance of key people, groups, events, institutions, societies and sites within the historical context.
H3.1. Locate, select and organise relevant information from a variety of sources.
H3.2. Discuss relevant problems of sources for reconstructing the past.
H3.3. Analyse and evaluate sources for their usefulness and reliability.
H3.6. Plan and present the findings of historical investigations, analysing and synthesising information from a range of sources.
H4.2. Communicate knowledge and understanding of historical features and issues using appropriate oral and written forms.


5. Values the complexity and variety of human experiences as reflected in the history of the ancient world.
7. Develops an interest in history for lifelong learning.


Key questions:

1. What was it like to live in ancient Pompeii?
2. What does the archaeological evidence show regarding Pompeian religious beliefs and practices?
3. What does the archaeological evidence reveal to the historian regarding ancient pastimes and cultural practices?


Formative assessment for this module:

An augmented reality exhibit constructed in small groups using Aurasma. Aurasma is a free to use augmented reality construction and distribution tool which allows users to enrich static visual images with rich media including 2d and 3d visuals, videos, audio files and links to online resources, which can then be experienced by using the Aurasma app on a mobile device. Tutorials are available on their website. Students are free to construct more than 1 Aura if they so choose to illustrate their learning. Students ought to showcase at least 4 well-chosen artifacts outlining the topic they have selected, plus any other media they consider beneficial to the presentation. This must include a voice-over mp3 file which is to be written and recorded and added to the Aura or Auras, explaining what has been researched regarding the topic and how the objects chosen illustrate and elucidate the topic.

If the exhibits are not completed during class time they are to be set as work to be completed at home.

Once the exhibition has been completed, other students, staff members and other interested parties are to be invited to observe the student’s constructions.

On top of this, each student is to keep a diary explaining the development of their insights on the topics at hand. This work should be around 500 words.



If the students wish to extend their learning, a number of 3d files are available online regarding the culture of ancient Pompeii. These may be downloaded and printed to further illustrate the topics covered.

Students are also free to deepen and broaden their research on the topics covered to their heart’s desire.


Lesson 1. Orientation.



The first lesson is to orient the students to the module and to provide a scaffolded approach to the technology required, and presents the students an opportunity to begin grappling with the materials provided.

In preparation for this class students ought to be encouraged to create an Aurasma account and spend some time familiarizing themselves with the user interface.

1. The teacher introduces the module to the class, including some words of orientation regarding the topic and introduces the formative assessment task and talks about what is required from the students for this body of work. – 10 minutes.

2. The teacher explains what Aurasma is and how it is used. An introductory Aura is created by the teacher to demonstrate the process by which it is done, and to serve as an introduction to the exhibition. – 15 minutes.

3. The students are broken into modest sized groups which they will continue in for the duration of the module. Each group selects 1 topic from the following:

a. The food of Pompeii – crops, food industries and the culture of consumption.

b. Religions and Temples at Pompeii.

c. Pastimes of Pompeii.

d. Trade and business life of Pompeii.

- 5 minutes.

4. Students will be presented with a resource package, which includes primary literary records, some secondary literature to orient the students regarding current historical thought, and a selection of archaeological resources from which to draw the information for their Aura. (See Appendix A.) Students may also research outside of these resources for more information and artifacts. Students are to explore the information in their resource packages and start to plan their Aura. – 15 minutes.


Lesson 2. Research, Planning and Writing.


The second lesson will give the students the opportunity to develop their insights into the information presented in the initial session, and collaboratively plan and begin to construct their Auras.

1. The different groups are asked to quickly present their thoughts on what they learned in the previous lesson. Questions are encouraged regarding the project. – 10 minutes.

2. Students are instructed to read or observe the materials in their resource packages, and search for more resources if they so desire. – 15 minutes.

3. Students are to begin constructing their Aura or Auras. – 15 minutes.

4. A period of time is set aside to discuss progress, thoughts, and troubleshooting. – 5 minutes.


Lesson 3. Completion and display.

Gladiator helmet Pompeii


The third lesson gives the students the opportunity to finish their Auras, and to present their Auras to the group.

1. The different groups are asked to quickly present their thoughts on what they learned in the previous lesson and reflect on the development of their Aura. – 5 minutes.

2. Time is set aside to finish any remaining work for the Auras. – 15 minutes.

3. Students construct the exhibition space, moving desks and chairs as necessary. – 5 minutes.

4. Students present their exhibitions to each other, the groups taking it in turns to display their productions. – 20 minutes.

At the conclusion of the module, if possible, the exhibition is to be left in place and students are encouraged to invite significant parties to observe and interact with the exhibits during out of class hours.


Appendix 1. Resources for Food.

Murphy, C., Thompson, G., & Fuller, D. Q. (2013). Roman food refuse: urban archaeobotany in Pompeii, Regio VI, Insula 1. Vegetation history and archaeobotany22(5), 409-419.

Cooley, A. E., & Cooley, M. G. L. (2013). Pompeii and Herculaneum: a sourcebook. Routledge.

Vesuvius and Wine

Bradley, P. (2013). Cities of Vesuvius: Pompeii and Herculaneum. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1.

Remains of incomplete Garum fermentation from Pompeii

Reconstruction of Pompeian bread


Appendix 2. Resources for Religion.

Cooley, A. E., & Cooley, M. G. L. (2013). Pompeii and Herculaneum: a sourcebook. Routledge. Chapter 5: Religion, pp.117-160.

The Temple of Isis

University of Oregon on Isis worship

The Gods of Pompeii by Dr. Bill Leadbetter

Household gods




Appendix 3. Resources for Pastimes.

Cooley, A. E., & Cooley, M. G. L. (2013). Pompeii and Herculaneum: a sourcebook. Routledge. Chapter 4: Leisure, pp.58-116.

Graffiti in Pompeii

Leisure activities


Appendix 4. Resources for Economy and Trade.

Cooley, A. E., & Cooley, M. G. L. (2013). Pompeii and Herculaneum: a sourcebook. Routledge. Chapter 8: Commercial Life, pp.227-286.

Flohr, M. (2013). The textile economy of Pompeii. Journal of Roman Archaeology26, 53-78.

 The Macellum (Market)


Appendix 5. General resources.

Pictorial archive of Pompeii

Digital Pompeii Project, University of Arkansas

Viewing Pompeii – Pompeii Forum Project


BOSTES (2009). Ancient History Syllabus.




No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>