The Department of Classics at SFSU is pleased to announce the 15th Annual Raoul Bertrand Lecture in Classics. This year, we are delighted to welcome Prof. Pedar Foss, from DePauw University.
Pedar W. Foss is Professor of Classical Studies at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he has worked since 1999. He conducts courses in Latin, ancient history, and literature, and art and archaeology. He received his B.A. in Chemistry and Classics from Gustavus Adolphus College, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; he has taught at the University of Cincinnati and at Stanford. His research concerns domestic life at Pompeii, landscape archaeology, and Geographic Information Systems, on which he has published numerous books, chapters, articles, and reviews. He has also edited for the Journal of Roman Archaeology and was co-editor of the book reviews for the American Journal of Archaeology from 2008-2011.
Prof. Foss will present his lecture, titled "When Did Vesuvius Explode?" In describing his lecture, Prof. Foss says, "It has long been held, on the basis of a letter of Pliny the Younger, that Mt. Vesuvius erupted on 24 August, AD 79. But after excavators began to work at the sites of Herculaneum at Pompeii, some scholars expressed doubts, suggesting a date later in the autumn of that year. Debate has increased with recent paleo-environmental research and finds from new excavations. Scholars have divided over a topic that might appear trivial—after all, most archaeological sites never enjoy such a precise date. But it is an excellent case study for testing our methods of historical and archaeological research. I have collated, for the first time, every extant manuscript and printed edition of Pliny’s Letters 6.16 and 6.20, which tell the story of the eruption, to track and analyze the literary tradition of the date through its surviving evidence. I have also compiled a GIS reconstruction of the pre-eruption landscape and coastline, and collected all recent volcanological and archaeological research. As such, I can share a multidisciplinary reconstruction of what happened over the two terrifying days of the eruption, and when Vesuvius erupted."