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Identifying the connection between Roman Conceptions of ‘Pure Air’ and Physical and Mental Health in Pompeian Gardens (c. 150 BC-AD 79): A Multi-Sensory Approach to Ancient Medicine

Baker, Patricia A (2018) Identifying the connection between Roman Conceptions of ‘Pure Air’ and Physical and Mental Health in Pompeian Gardens (c. 150 BC-AD 79): A Multi-Sensory Approach to Ancient Medicine. World Archaeology, . ISSN 0043-8243. E-ISSN 1470-1375. (doi:10.1080/00438243.2018.1487332)

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https://doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2018.1487332

Abstract

Different genres of Roman literature commented on the relationship between the condition of the environment and physical and mental health. They often refer to clear, pure, or good air as a beneficial aspect of the environment. Yet, unlike fetid air, they provide few descriptions of what constituted healthy air quality. Moreover, aside from pointing out the association between the environment and bodily condition, the writers also did not explain precisely how the link between the two was made. This paper utilizes a comparative study of ancient literature and the archaeological remains of Roman gardens in Pompeii: archaeobotanical samples, fresco paintings, location, and surviving features. Three questions are addressed in this study: First, how did the Romans identify and define pure? Second, how did air connect to the body? Third, what were the qualities of pure air and how did they benefit the body? Not only was inhalation a means of linking air to the body, but the two were also related through sensory perception. I argue that sight, sound, and olfaction were used to identify the qualities of pure air. Through the sensory process of identification, the beneficial properties of pure air were, in accordance with ancient perceptions of sensory function, taken into the body and affected health. Thus, sensory perception acted as the bridge between the environment and health.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/00438243.2018.1487332
Uncontrolled keywords: Health, Sensory Perception, Roman gardens, Sensory Archaeology and History, Air Quality, Pompeii
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Classical and Archaeological Studies
Depositing User: Patricia Baker
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2018 14:52 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2020 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/67222 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Baker, Patricia A: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6903-3834
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