Last Updated on August 6, 2021 by Neil Mackengie
If you ever make a trip to Italy, one of the most fascinating sights to see in Pompeii. For here is a city, almost 2,000 years old, that you will be able to see and study in greater detail, and better preserved, than almost any other ancient city.
Why Is This So?
On August 24th, in the year A.D. 79, there was a great eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a volcano in southern Italy. The lava, stones, and ashes thrown up by the volcano completely buried two nearby towns.
The town of Herculaneum, about two miles away, was deeply covered by a stream of mud that flowed down the slope of the mountain. Pompeii, farther along the coast, was buried by the rain of ashes and pebbles of light pumice stone. These fell over Pompeii in a dry state, and the mass which covered the city was from 5 to 6 meters thick.
When the water came down on top of this, the material became like clay or plaster of Paris. As a result, objects that were caught in it made molds of the material, and the two towns were remarkably preserved underneath!
Survivors of this disaster returned to the towns, and by digging down and tunneling were able to remove most of the valuable objects, including slabs of marble that were on the large buildings. In the Middle Ages, this place and everything about it was forgotten.
In 1594, an underground aqueduct was started here, and the ruins were rediscovered. But it took until 1763 before any real excavating was done, and it has been carried on ever since. But a substantial part of Pompeii is still buried!
What Is Pompeii Famous For?
The city of Pompeii is famous because it was destroyed in 79 CE when a nearby volcano, Mount Vesuvius, erupted, covering it in at least 19 feet (6 meters) of ash and other volcanic debris. The city’s quick burial preserved it for centuries before its ruins were discovered in the late 16th century.
On August 24, Mt. Vesuvius erupted, and fewer than 600 people managed to escape the city of Pompeii before the ash and heatwave completely covered the town. This catastrophic event occurred in 79 A.D. and follows the most famous example of this kind of event that we know of, which is the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which buried the Roman town of Pompeii under a blanket of ash.
In October of 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the humble town of Pompeii in ash and lava. While the city was covered in tons of earth and stone, it was preserved by the Roman Empire due to a thick blanket of ash. Over the years, this ash had become hardened and settled to the bottom of the city, until it was finally excavated in the early 1800s. Only then did the modern world realize just how deadly this eruption was.
There is a volcanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean that is relatively new, called the “Pompeii volcano”. As such, it is a relatively unexplored area of that kind of thing. However, it has recently been volcanically active and there are many interesting things to learn from that about volcanoes.