Daily Life

To learn more about the private lives of the people living in Pompeii and other parts of Rome, let's look at their homes and some of the objects that they made and used every day.

Where did they live?

Most people lived in small apartments -- maybe 2 or 3 rooms in a tall building with stores on the ground level. These quarters were often crowded and a fire hazard. Of course they didn't have elevators, so they had to climb up five or six flights of stairs if they lived on the top floor!

Wealthy Romans lived in atrium houses. The front door opened into a large hall, called an atrium, which had an opening in the ceiling to let in light and a pool in the floor to catch rainwater. Various rooms opened off the atrium, for example storerooms, bedrooms, maybe a library. There was also a room for entertaining guests and an open courtyard with a garden at the back of the house. Brightly painted walls and mosaic floors decorated these homes.

Household Goods

Greek Lamp Roman homes were lit by oil lamps made of clay, bronze, or glass. Olive oil was poured into the large hole in the center of the lamp, and a cloth wick was placed in the smaller opening and lit.
The invention of blown glass changed the glass industry -- glass containers could be produced quickly and cheaply, making glass inexpensive rather than a luxury item. Glass served as cosmetic containers, dishes, lamps, crematory urns, and jewelry. Glass Jars

© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
For more information please contact
Last Update: