Wilhelmina Feemster Jashemski

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Wilhelmina Mary Feemster Jashemski (July 10, 1910 – December 24, 2007) was an American archaeologist and archaeobotanist, known for her work at the ancient site of Pompeii.


  • The shop-houses of the humble people who made up a large part of the population at Pompeii have been little noticed, over-shadowed as they are by the more aristocratic and much studied atrium-peristyle houses. It is now generally recognized that Pompeii was a busy commercial town and not the resort town and playground of the wealthy Romans that earlier writers believed it to be. The many shops and workshops at Pompeii are found scattered throughout the town for the residential and business sections were not rigidly separated. In many cases the shop was simply a large room, which was open to the street when the shutters were pushed back. Frequently there was a counter facing the street, especially in food shops, so that passers-by might be served without the need to enter the shop.
    • (1977). "The Excavation of a Shop-House Garden at Pompeii (I. XX. 5)". American Journal of Archaeology 81 (2): 217–227. DOI:10.2307/503177.
  • The "Garden of Hercules" takes its name from the statue worshipped in the large lararium of the garden (II.viii.6) attached to a modest house to the W of the Great Palaestra at Pompeii. This garden was partially excavated in 1953—1954, but even in previously excavated gardens it is still sometimes possible to find evidence of ancient plants. University of Maryland excavations from 1972—1974 uncovered here a garden very different from any found thus far. The soil contours, planting pattern, provisions for watering, ancient pollen and the perfume bottles found suggest that this was a commercial flower garden, the products of which were used in making the perfume or perfumed oils, and perhaps the garlands, so important in ancient Roman life. Ancient writers speak of the importance of the flower industry in Campania; wall paintings at Pompeii picture the procedures of making garlands and perfume; inscriptions attest to the activities of the unguentarii. This garden, however, provides the first evidence for commercial flower growing within the city.
    • (1979). ""The Garden of Hercules at Pompeii" (II.viii.6): The Discovery of a Commercial Flower Garden". American Journal of Archaeology 83 (4): 403–411. DOI:10.2307/504139.
  • At Pompeii not only public buildings and shops have been preserved, but hundreds of houses and gardens. There was at least one garden in almost every house, while some houses had three or four. The garden was an integral part of the house and a significant factor in its development. Only at Pompeii can domestic architecture be traced for a period of almost four hundred years. Pompeii preserves examples of the early Italic house with the garden at the rear, houses that date back to the late fourth or early third century b.c. They remind us that the hortus is old; it formed a significant part of the primitive heredium ("hereditary estate"). The hortus was primarily a kitchen garden, but I suspect that even so the ancient gardener tucked in a few flowers amid in the herbs and vegetables, as does the Italian gardener today.
  • I remember well the moment when I first became aware of the importance of medicinal herbs at Pompeii. It was an early summer morning in 1966 when we went into the insula (city block) across from the amphitheater to clear it of over-growth before beginning our excavations. When my workmen spotted a patch of bright green weeds, they immediately rushed to dig them up and put them with their belongings, to take home at the end of the day ... I thought it very strange, and inquired why they did this. "For fegato," they told me, "it is very good." I was to learn as I worked at Pompeii that liver (fegato) ailments were a common complaint, hence the importance of the medicine made from the herb that my workmen were gathering, the common weed known as mullein (Verbascum sinuatum L.)

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