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Thursday, October 24, 2013


Pompeii with Vesuvius in background

In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius erupted, instantly killing the citizens of Pompeii and burying the city in upwards of twenty feet of ash and pumice. The city was soon forgotten until it was rediscovered by accident in 1599 during the digging of an underground channel but was soon forgotten again. In 1748 it was rediscovered, and excavation began in earnest. However, many of the discoveries were reburied due to archeological censorship because the Romans of 79 AD were far more sexually liberated than eighteenth century Europeans.

Statuary and household items found during excavation
Due to the lack of air and moisture, the city and most of its artifacts were almost completely intact when discovered. Pompeii is one of few sites where an ancient city has been so well preserved. Life was literally frozen in time on that fateful day. Plaster was used to fill the areas between the ash layers to make casts of the exact positions of the citizens at the moment of their death.

A street in Pompeii
As you walk the streets of Pompeii, you see incredible details—bars and bakeries, bathhouses, streets with tracks for carriages to provide smooth rides. There’s even a house with a mosaic plaque warning visitors to “Cave Canem” or “Beware of the Dog.” 

Altar inside a private home
Frescoed walls in private home
Frescoes still adorn interior walls of homes and bathhouses. Street signs discretely direct men to the Lupanar, the ancient brothel adorned with pornographic frescoes.

Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years and is still not fully excavated. It’s a must-see for anyone traveling to Italy.

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