W4 Reflection Post

The video The Hearth discussed the households from four different locations: Ceren, Copan, Teotihuacan, and Pompeii. The household structure in each place had certain differences. The two Mayan sites, Ceren and Copan, had some similarities as well as differences. The two sites had similar home layouts, a central patio surrounded by three or more buildings. The Copan site is much larger than Ceren. The archaeologists studying both sites have looked to modern Maya peoples for evidence of household structure. What they have found is that the basic household consists of a nuclear or extended family. The buildings that surrounded the patio served separate functions, one was for cooking, one for storage and the other(s) for sleeping. As the family grew, more buildings would be added for sleeping. These large family units were necessary for the division of labor. Each family member would have specific duties to preform and the more people available, the easier the work would be.

At Teotihuacan, the housing was much larger. Family units tended to be lineages, with more members living together, not nuclear families. These households could contain between thirty and one hundred people with a core of twenty to thirty male relatives. These large families also tended to have a distinct religious element, centered around ancestor worship. Burials were often done within the compound, in the bedrooms or under the central patio and altar. These families tended to be large for economic reasons, each family would have a specialized trade and the members would participate in the production of goods based on age. The evidence of this comes from the size of the ruins and the burials within the compounds. They also looked at descendants who still lived and worked in the area, and their practices.

The Romans in Pompeii were very different from the sites in Mexico and Central America. Roman houses in Pompeii often had shops attached to them where the family would earn its money. The homes of the elite tended to be larger and more elaborately decorated, with multiple dining rooms for entertaining guests. Families tended to be less connected and would often include former slaves that had been freed. Roman families did not need to be as large or concentrated as those in the New World because the Romans used slaves for much of their labor. The evidence for Roman life comes from the preserved ruins at Pompeii. The city was buried under volcanic ash and almost perfectly preserved in 79 CE.

It would have been interesting if the archaeologists had examined the pyramids at Teotihuacan and the temples or other public works at Pompeii to see what they could teach us about the organization of society in those cultures.

3 thoughts on “W4 Reflection Post

  1. Looking at each of these sites, the one that fascinated me the most was the Teotihuacan site mainly because of the sheer size it had and the fact that it consisted of multiple generations of families all within one place. It was just astounding to see that once in this location lived at most one hundred people in a household and how everyone played a particular role in the house. It shows that the religious dynamic played a vital role in their society in the way how they had multiple generations of people living under one house and helping in trade and even producing certain goods.

  2. Scott, I like how you not only contrasted but also compared some similarities between households, as it was clear that some things such as the Mayan sites consisting of only blood related families. Your comments on the religious aspects as well as the burials in the Teotihuacan are important as well- it gives a larger idea of life than simply how big their households were. It was interesting, as you said, how different the Romans were from the sites of Ceren and Copan, and how the focus of family lifestyle and the sharing of labor was not present at all in Pompeii, rather social classes determined the work, or how much work, an individual performed.

  3. Scott, I like how you not only contrasted but also compared some similarities between households, as it was clear that some things such as the Mayan sites consisting of only blood related families. Your comments on the religious aspects as well as the burials in the Teotihuacan are important as well- it gives a larger idea of life than simply how big their households were. It was interesting, as you said, how different the Romans were from the sites of Ceren and Copan, and how the focus of family lifestyle and the sharing of labor was not present at all in Pompeii, rather social classes determined the work, or how much work, an individual performed.

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