Tracing procession routes for the principal cults in Pompeii

Ivo van der Graaff (University of New Hampshire)
and Eric Poehler (University of Massachusetts


Pompeii preserves vivid representations of religious processions in frescoes painted on the Shop of the Carpenter’s Procession and in the House of the Wedding of Hercules. Announcements for gladiatorial games as well as a funerary relief recovered from the necropolis at the Stabian gate attest to the presence of processions associated with festivities in the Amphitheatre and the Forum. A further inscription placed inside the Stabian gate describes a Via Pumpaiiana, presumably named for its role as a possible processional route (Greek pompé, procession). These glimpses into processional events suggest that vibrant displays were common in Pompeii, yet the routes that such processions took remain virtually unknown. Using evidence from inscriptions, visual culture, spatial analysis, and Roman religious traditions, this chapter is a preliminary attempt to gather the evidence for processional routes related to the principal cults in Pompeii. From this evidence, it proposes to chart a few tentative routes taken by public religious processions.

Keywords: Pompeii, religious processions, Roman religion, urban layout, ludi, public cults

Full text: OAJ_ISSUE_10_7_Ivo van der Graaff and Eric Poehler_final (PDF 1.22MB).


Biographical note 

Ivo van der Graaff is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of New Hampshire, Durham.  He received his PhD in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin and a combined BA and MA degree in Mediterranean Archaeology from the University of Amsterdam. He co-directs and collaborates on projects examining the ancient Bay of Naples and Etruria.

Eric Poehler is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He received a PhD and MA in Art History at the University of Virginia, an AM in Social Science (Anthropology) from the University of Chicago, and a BA in History and French at Bemidji State University. Poehler is co-director of several digital and fieldwork projects, including at Corinth, Pompeii, and Tharros (Sardinia).