Destination: Pompeii

August 24, 2007

Today is the anniversary of the destruction of Pompeii by Mt. Vesuvius. Pompeii has always held a fascination for me. I think it’s the combination of its age, the remnants of daily life that it preserved, and its uniqueness. When I went to Greece it was the Acropolis that had me transfixed. In Russia, the Tolstoy House Museum was my favorite tourist site. Pompeii is a combination of the aspects that each of these offered.

Most of what scholars know of daily life in ancient Roman culture comes from Pompeii. It was a thriving city at the time, and most people probably didn’t even know that Mt. Vesuvius was a volcano. It was also five miles away, so they probably thought they had time to flee if necessary. But by the end of the day the city was covered in more than 20 feet of debris. It was as if time had just stopped. When it was excavated in 1860 archaeologists found holes in the sediment with human remains in them. They poured plaster into these spaces and thus obtained perfect molds of these people at the time of their deaths, down to the expressions on their faces. There was a father and son on the floor of a house, the boy on his back looking up at his father, and they were holding hands. Adults were found trying to protect their children. Families rushed to the sea. Dogs strained at their leashes.

One day, I’d like to see it for myself.

Posted in: personal

Comments on Destination: Pompeii

  1. 1

    From Katy:

    Hmm. Well, I saw it when I was in high school. Frankly, I remember being a little creeped out.

  2. 2

    From Peter K.:

    I visisted Pompeii two summers ago. It was remarkable. I was amazed at how well so many aspects of the city were presevered.

Leave a Reply