Sunday, October 12, 2008


We've had a rough couple of weeks with the economy, the stock market, layoffs, the election...maybe it will seem better if we think about some folks who had an even rougher time.

Let’s visit Pompeii.

You know the story. On August 24, 79, Mount Vesuvius near Naples, Italy, blew its lid. Tons of molten ash and sulfuric gas filled the atmosphere. These poisonous vapors suffocated the poor people of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae. Additionally, tons of the nasty debris filled the streets, the homes, the shops, everything until the cities and their suffocated inhabitants were completely buried. And, those cities remained that way until excavation started in 1748. Excavations and research are still going on today.

Here are some pictures we took on our vacation in August.

Pompeii was a highly-evolved Roman city with a population of around 20,000. the city was enclosed by walls and covered 167 acres. Since Greek traders had settled around the Bay of Naples and surrounding areas as early as 500 BC, Pompeii was influenced by Greek traditions. So, throughout the remaining ruins there are both Greek and Roman influences in the architecture and
the social layout of the city.

The Romans were a far more stratified civilization. You can see evidence of the delineation between the social classes at the time of its destruction throughout the ruins.

Following Greek tradition, the layout of the city streets in Pompeii follows a geometric grid with gates on the north, south, east, and west sides. There are 8 main arch entrances into Pompeii. Houses were divided into blocks, intersected by straight very well paved, smooth-stoned streets. Roads had gutters, raised footpaths for pedestrians, underground pipes for water (mainly for private houses)

There were many public amenities; baths, exercise grounds, palaestra, swimming pools, amphitheatres, theatres, forums, law courts, banks, market places, etc. There were elaborate vineyards and gardens, a huge forum and several other multi-storied buildings. The people of Pompeii had several temples to worship in. Temples were dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, Mars, Venus, Isis, Minerva and others.

Several dozen buildings have even been identified as likely houses of prostitution.

The Pompeiians relaxed in large public baths. They were quite ornate with stone mosaic work on the walls and the floors, the baths featured steamrooms and separate hot and cold pools for soaking as well as a large pool for swimming.

Most villas were built surrounding an open central courtyard, sometimes highlighted by a pool and sometimes a fountain. Many of the homes had opulent colonnaded gardens decorated with statuary and beautiful mosaic floors. Inside, many villas were decorated with colorful frescoes depicting various aspects of daily life, history and the mythology and religious beliefs of Pompeii's citizens.

Welcome mat at front door of home.
Pompeii home

At the very least, Pompeii is a sobering reminder of the fragility and transitory nature of life on earth. Rich and poor, free citizen and slave, young and old—all met the same fate in Pompeii.

1 comment:

Liza's Eyeview said...

Thanks for the tour - I love seeing these places. I hope someday I can go see it for myself :)