In the early afternoon on the 24th of August, 79 an explosion rocked the city of Pompeii. The city served as a retreat for wealthy Romans far away from the noise, dirt and heat of the Rome. Pliny the Younger, watching from the town of Misenum (about 21 km away from Pompeii) was an eyewitness to the destruction and recorded his observations along with interviews from other witnesses and survivors in a letter to his friend, Tacitus.
Mount Vesuvius from Pompeii
Main City Gate - the rich entered through the smaller gate; the poor and the delivery people through the larger door.
Contrary it popular belief, it wasn't ash or lava that killed the residents of Pompeii, although ash had been falling at the rate of about 6 inches per hour crushing roofs and causing severe damage. A wall of volcanic mud had engulfed the nearby city of Herculaneum shortly after midnight. This engulfment left Herculaneum almost perfectly preserved up to and including wooden furniture, roofs, and even food on the table.
While archaeologists found bodies in the streets and houses of Pompeii no bodies were initially discovered in Herculaneum. Scientists speculated that the inhabitants had somehow escaped. When the excavation reached the port, however, they found hundreds of bodies huddled together by the sea - indicating that they tried to flee and were trapped by the sea and the fiery mountain.
Back in Pompeii, around 6:30 the following morning a cloud of volcanic gases and debris rushed through Pompeii exceeding speeds of 100 km/hour. Most victims died instantly as the superheated air burned through their lungs; their muscles contracting quickly buried and preserved for nearly 1700 years until the city was rediscovered in 1748 and excavations were begun.
This was a pregnant woman, you can just see her baby bump.
You can see that this person had a scarf wrapped around their mouth to help keep ash and pumice out.
Excavation of Pompeii continues with approximately 20% still unearthed.
Temple of Apollo (I think?)
Temple of Jupiter
I love the colors in this photo!
This is the only surviving roof.
It's the crown molding of Pompeii
Across the street from the baths was an area our guide categorized as a food court. People came out of the baths and wanted food and water and these shops catered to those customers.
There are grooved channels all through this area. They were the tracks for sliding doors. AWESOME.
You can kind of see in the middle of the street the stepping stones the rich people had in front of their homes. They would set these stones in the road so that when the streets flooded (which they did fairly often) they didn't have to step in the water. (The sidewalks were already elevated.)
This guy had the fanciest (well, maybe not the fanciest, but the tallest) house in Pompeii.
He was so rich he could afford to decorate the walkway along the entire length of his villa.
I would love to go back some day and be able to wander at my own pace. It really is a spectacular place.
Do you remember when they excavated the "red light" district of Pompeii? How everyone was shocked at the frescos? Our guide kept telling us that if we were a good tour group he would take us to the most exciting part of the city, and of course he meant the brothel section. So, continue reading at your own risk.
How do you get to the brothels? Follow the signs...
And once you get there how do you order a prostitute? You just look on the wall and point to the position you want.