Friday, June 25, 2010

This Place is a Mess - It's in Ruins!

Lisa and I took a day trip to someplace that I've always wanted to visit, and which we both found completely fascinating - the ancient ruins of the city of Pompeii.

Buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius on August 24 in the year 79 AD, the ruins of Pompeii were long forgotten. It wasn't rediscovered until 1748, with many structures and building eventually being excavated to reveal a city frozen in time.

It has been a popular tourist destination for 250 years, attracting as many as 2.6 million visitors a year from all around the world - although the Lisa and I had no trouble at all getting and and wandering around during our visit.

The central forum of Pompeii
with the remnants of Mount Vesuvius in the background

Many details of everyday life for citizens of Pompeii can be appreciated by exploring the ruins of bakeries, fast-food emporiums, and ordinary homes.

An ancient Roman bakery - the stone mill for grinding grain into flour is in the foreground, with a brick hearth for baking bread in the background

An "fast-food" joint - the holes in the counter held pots of food,
warmed by fires underneath

Among the ruins of Pompeii are some of the victims of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. They died an excruciating death, inhaling hot gases and ash, and eventually buried under the fallout of pumice along with the entire city.

By the time Pompeii was eventually rediscovered, all but their bones had rotted away - leaving voids in the hardened volcanic ash that echoed when engineers walked over them. Holes were drilled into them, and the empty spaces were filled with plaster - preserving the gruesome postures of the dead.

A display case containing a victim of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius

The death pose

Bits of bone show through the plaster cast of a former citizen of Pompeii

Next up?

A visit to the most popular place in Pompeii...

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