Sunday, October 19, 2008


Alright, we have finally set sail from Rome and have reached our first port of call: Pompeii!

While our vacation was super fun, it was definitely exhausting. For our excursions, we were up at the crack of dawn, or sometimes earlier. Here's a picture of the mountains around Naples at sunrise.

Here's a city street in Pompeii. The three stones in the middle of the street were used for crossing when water ran high. Here is some basic info on Pompeii from wiki:

Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples and Caserta.

Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed, and completely buried, during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days on 24 August, AD 79.

The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under many meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. (me again: important to note, Pompeii was NOT destroyed by lava. In fact, our tour guide made clear that the lava never reached the city. That's why the ruins we have are so amazing.)

In the Roman homes, there are beautifully kept wall decorations, such as these frescoes.

Here is a wall fresco depicting the goddess of victory, Nike. She's the figure in the middle with wings, like the shoes.

Running along the streets are the original lead pipes that provided the homes and shops and running water. While people joke about how the Romans all died of lead poisoning, in fact, the water running through the pipes would calcify, creating a barrier between the walls of the pipes and the water. So no lead got into the water.

Here's a view of the Pompeii forum (the center of town) looking through the entrance arch.

And a better view of the Forum.

At the one end of the forum, is the Temple of Jupiter, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background.

Ok, this is kind of morbid. The destruction of Pompeii and its people was so sudden, that the people were covered in ash right where they stood or sat. The ash formed a protective casing, and the bodies decomposed inside. But when the city was excavated, the archaeologists were able to make plaster casts of the spaces inside--death casts. It really helps put a human perspective on the natural disaster.

On the opposite end of the Forum from the Temple of Jupiter is the Basilica, the courthouse. Except in Pompeii, if you were found guilty of pretty much anything, it meant you got the death penalty. Hi, Justice!

Coming up tomorrow: we'll take a brief break from my trip photos to start a new regular segment...stay tuned!

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