Murder Mystery in the Ancient City of Pompeii

Tags: Pompeii, Cluedo, Classical Civilisation, games

 Our first ever Year Nine Classical Civilisation group are drawing to the end of their learning about Pompeii. It's been an exciting term in lots of ways, and so it felt fitting that our final lesson on this fascinating city - until revision later this year - would be a dramatic one. In fact, it was a murder mystery event styled on the game Cluedo! 

Inspired by playing an Edinburgh version of Cluedo over Christmas, in the foggy week between Christmas and New Year, I set about preparing suspect, weapon and location cards. The weapons consisted of a strigil, a sword, poison, amphora and a strophium (a sort of Roman bra). The game needed to be adapted in order for it to function as a fun quiz on all aspects of Pompeii they had learned alongside a game of deduction. To do this, I elected four students to act as suspects, plus fellow Class Civ teacher Mr Gimson! Their roles were the duumvir, the barmaid, the slave, the actor and the gladiator, and we posted each one into a different area of the school's History corridor. These areas represented the locations - Stabian Baths, Amphitheatre, House of Julia Felix, Odeon and Thermopolium of Asselina. 

These suspects were each given their own set of cards, and a list of questions about the location they were in.  The students then went round in small groups, where they met each suspect, and were asked five questions. If they got the questions mostly right, the suspect would show them all one of their cards at random. Whether or not they got any questions right, each suspect had a script to read which detailed what they had been doing the day of the murder. The scripts all gave clues as well as some false pointers! 

Finally, when everyone had had a chance to meet each suspect, we returned to the classics centre for the final denouement! The groups made their guesses, the envelope with the correct three cards was opened, and the crime was revealed...

I hope it was a fun ending for a term and a lesson on Pompeii. The intention was also for it to be a useful, immersive way of reminding them of some key aspects, and testing their knowledge of others. For the most part it seemed to work well, although some unplanned-for elements of chaos crept in when switching from suspect to suspect - this would be something to streamline more efficiently if we ever do this again!

Thank you for following our journey through teaching Pompeii for the first time! The group are now working on recreating Pompeii through activities and displays at our Festival of Ancient and Modern Science Come and see their city in action on 7th February!