The lost city of Pompeii. We’ve all read the history of how the city was enveloped and smothered in ash when Mount Vesuvius blew her top. Some of us have seen a movie or two based on the story. However, it only becomes real when you actually see the city ruins and the bodies that were buried alive. What terror they must have felt!
Pompeii was rebuilding as the result of an earthquake in 62 AD. Though the coast was subject to many smaller quakes, the one of 62 was large enough to do damage to nearly every building in Pompeii. It is believed that though many people stayed to help rebuild, many other citizens relocated further inland or up the coast. Seventeen years after the quake, with still much restoration work remaining, Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD killing an estimated 2000 people in Pompeii alone. There were many other cities that were buried as well but Pompeii is the largest and most well known. Historians now conclude that it was the extreme heat that killed these citizens and not suffocation by ash as was first thought.
For nearly 1500 years, Pompeii lay forgotten beneath 12 meters of ash and dirt. It was first re-discovered in 1592 while digging a channel to divert water from a nearby river. However, the ancient walls of frescos were considered scandalous and lewd for the time (counter reformation) and were quickly covered up again. The city under ash was ignored for another 200 years until Charles of Bourbon, later King of Spain took great interest in the antiquities as they reinforced the political and cultural power of Naples. Since then, the city has been under excavation. After being buried for almost 2000 years, Pompeii is very well preserved. However, due to weather, animals and increased tourism many of the items are now beginning to deteriorate. We noticed that many of the areas are now closed off to tourists in order to preserve what is left.
So, that’s the history lesson – now our observations. We were amazed at how large the site is. It is actually the entire city and you could walk around for days and probably still not see it all. As mentioned, the buildings are well preserved and it definitely gives you an insight into day to day life during this time. We saw the public baths – and some private ones, two theatres (one large, one small) that were dedicated to plays, music and recitation, the large amphitheatre which entertained the citizens with gladiators and wild beasts, the market and street food area (storefronts with counters that have holes through them to keep food warm), storage granaries, government buildings, the court basilica, temples, the prostitute’s house (yes, they actually had one of these) the gymnasium and many, many private houses. There was also preserved pottery, statues and even a few bodies that were discovered with their hands covering their heads and others curled in the fetal position. That was a little eerie but fascinating just the same. As for the sexual frescoes that had been covered up many years before – these are now on display at the Naples Archaeological Museum but are considered so explicit that minors still need a guardian or written permission in order to view them. We won’t have time to see them for ourselves, so we’ll just have to Google them in our free time.
So, that’s our day in Pompeii – the reason that we came to Naples. Tomorrow, we head back to Rome and catch a flight to Lisbon, Portugal. Sadly, we say Arrivederci Roma but eagerly look forward to the next leg of our journey.
A selection of people and one dog in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A typical street and a typical girl.
Station 18 in Region VII was the Lupanare which translates into brothel. Below this picture is one which shows one of the beds inside which does not look very soft. Hope they had furs on it. There were quite a few frescos inside, but this is not an X rated blog so they were not included.
The big Theater.
And the small one.
A house which was owned by a very rich man.
The street food vendor. You can see the holes in the granite countertop which was used to keep the food hot. There were a few of them along this street.
First level concourse.
Notice below how well the path or road is preserved going into the Amphitheater.
The old vineyard…
Some random pictures to finish off.