Table of contents:
- 1. Brothels of Pompeii
- 2. Graffiti and wall paintings
- 3. Early professions
- 4. Eruption warnings
- 5. Descriptions of eyewitnesses
- 6. The force of the eruption
- 7. Victims
- 8. Consequences of the eruption
- 9. Accidental rediscovery of Pompeii
- 10. Plaster casts
After the eruption of Vesuvius on August 24, 79, the entire city of Pompeii in the Gulf of Naples was buried under a layer of volcanic ash and forgotten until the middle of the 18th century. Today the city of Pompeii is one of the most iconic archaeological sites, because when volcanic gas and ash buried the whole city under them, it was "mothballed" for thousands of years.
1. Brothels of Pompeii
During excavations in Pompeii, approximately 25 buildings were found where prostitution was practiced. Most of these places consisted of one room and were known as "lupanarii" ("Lupa" in Latin means "she-wolf", and in slang means a prostitute). Usually the lupanarium was two-story, with five rooms on each floor.
Archaeologists believe that this building functioned as an analogue of a brothel from the very beginning. The interior was decorated with erotic paintings to stimulate the imagination of the clients. Based on data from research on the names of prostitutes, it turned out that most of them were either Greek or of Eastern origin. They were believed to be slaves, and the service fees were relatively small - just a few glasses of wine.
2. Graffiti and wall paintings
A large number of graffiti and wall paintings have survived in Pompeii, which provide modern scholars with a rare opportunity to learn the thoughts of ancient Roman society. The nature of these inscriptions is quite extensive and among them there are often inscriptions similar to modern ones: "(A similar inscription was found on four different walls), etc. Often the inscriptions also put in a negative light the candidates for the city government:" Petty thieves ask you to elect Vatia to as a member of the city magistrate ".
3. Early professions
Although Pompeii is traditionally considered a Roman city, archaeologists have strong reasons to believe that this city was previously Greek. The oldest architectural remains of the city, dating back to the 6th century BC, are fragments of Greek Doric temples. This is entirely consistent with the fact that in the 6th century BC, there were several Greek settlements in the coastal area where Pompeii is located. Pompeii became part of the Roman world several centuries later.
Today, evidence of the occupation of the city has been found, and the ruins of buildings indicate that the buildings in the city were originally built by the Greeks. However, the original settlers, whoever they were, did not realize that the land they settled on was formed as a result of the previous eruption of Vesuvius.
4. Eruption warnings
Most modern people have heard of the devastating eruption that buried Pompeii, but less well known is the fact that Pompeii has repeatedly sounded warnings of a catastrophe that could occur. In 62 A.D. Pompeii was partially destroyed by an earthquake. Its inhabitants did not know the reason for this, but modern scientists say: the earthquake was the result of the magma beginning to move up … to Mount Vesuvius. For many years before the eruption, Pompeii faced a number of minor earthquakes.. All indicated that Vesuvius was about to wake up.
5. Descriptions of eyewitnesses
Pliny the Younger witnessed the eruption from a safe distance and recorded what he saw, leaving invaluable first-hand facts for modern scholars about the eruption that buried Pompeii. Pliny lived in Misenum, a city located on the shores of the Gulf of Naples on the opposite side of Pompeii. According to his records, a strangely shaped cloud has been hovering over Pompeii since the early morning of August 24, 79.
Pliny described the cloud as looking like a beautiful umbrella or pine tree, with a long vertical line and a flat top. His account states that Pliny felt a series of earthquakes during the night, and at dawn on August 25, he left the villa where he lived, fearing that it might be destroyed. He also saw "the sea receding into the distance from the coastline as a result of another powerful earthquake, after which fish and other marine life were on the bare sand."
6. The force of the eruption
It is a well-known fact that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the city of Pompeii, was catastrophically strong, but how strong was it? Modern scientists suggest that it was 500 times more powerful and destructive than the explosion of the atomic bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima.
During the excavations of Pompeii, from 1000 to 1500 corpses were found. Since the earliest excavations were poorly documented, this figure is not specific. If we add "unaccounted for bodies", as well as those that have not yet been excavated, then the number of alleged victims rises to about 2500. At the same time, the number of people who fled during the eruption is completely unknown. That is, today no historian can say how many people actually lived in Pompeii.
8. Consequences of the eruption
Thanks to the latest geological research, we know what happened after Vesuvius woke up on August 24, 79. A thick cloud of volcanic ash covered Pompeii. As ash and volcanic rocks fell further on the city, some of the buildings and structures began to collapse under the weight of volcanic material. The ash layer was at this moment about 2, 8 meters. At the same time, there were constant seismic shocks. On August 25 (possibly around 7:30 am), a stream of magma reached Pompeii, destroying the villas outside the city wall.
A second wave of volcanic hot gas and stones, which moved at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour, reached Pompeii some time later, destroying the city walls and killing every living thing in the city. Several more waves followed. By that time, everything was over for the inhabitants of the city: Pompeii was buried under a 5-meter layer of volcanic material.
9. Accidental rediscovery of Pompeii
Pompeii was rediscovered by accident in 1594 while digging a water canal. By sheer coincidence, workers found frescoes on the walls and inscriptions with the name of the city. At that time, the name "Pompeii" was interpreted as a reference to Pompey the Great, a famous Roman military leader who lived in the first century BC. As a result of this mistake, the remains of the city were initially misinterpreted as fragments of a large villa that (supposedly) belonged to Pompey the Great.
10. Plaster casts
When the Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli took control of the excavations at Pompeii in 1863, he noticed that voids were regularly found in layers of volcanic ash. The size and shape of these voids corresponded to the size and shape of human bodies. It was then that he realized that these voids are the result of the presence of human bodies, which decomposed in a layer of ash and volcanic material.
Fiorelli, by 1870, had developed a method that allowed him to restore the shape of dead bodies by injecting gypsum into these cavities in petrified ash. This method was later improved upon by using transparent fiberglass instead of gypsum.Today, hundreds of dummies can be seen both on the ruins of Pompeii and in the Archaeological Museum of Naples.
Today there are several versions of why the gods punished Pompeii… One of them is in one of our previous reviews.
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