Τετάρτη, 22 Ιανουαρίου 2014

Let's see, what happened in Pompeii and Herculaneum (Italy) almost 1,933 years ago, when Mount Vesuvius erupt.

Hello everyone!!

Vesuvius now

Today's post is not about me. 
It is about a famous volcano and two of the cities it destroyed. 
Let's travel to the past - one of the cheapest ways to travel - and see what happened. 
We will go to Italy and more specific to the famous Vesuvius volcano
A deadly, silent for now, giant who destroyed back then two towns. 
Pompeii and Herculaneum

* Many photographs follow. Warning - this article contains images which may cause distress. *

~ Pompeii ~

The city of Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples
 in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei.
Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas
in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) of ash
and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. 

Researchers believe that the town was founded in the seventh or sixth century BC
and was captured by the Romans in 80 BC. By the time of its destruction,
160 years later, its population was probably approximately 20,000,
with a complex water system, an amphitheatre, gymnasium and a port.

Street in Pompeii | source

The eruption was cataclysmic for the town. Evidence for the destruction originally came
from a surviving letter by Pliny the Younger,
who saw the eruption from a distance and described the death of his
uncle Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet, who tried to rescue citizens. 

The first noticeable events occurred at 08:00 on the 24th August AD79
(though I accept this date is disputed we’ll use it for the moment). 
Residents may have noticed a few small puffs from the mountain, perhaps they didn’t. 
Vesuvius wasn’t an active volcano and to those in Pompeii it was simply a large mountain, 
a dominating feature but one which gave very fertile slopes. [x]

Soon things developed; in the early afternoon, around 13:00 Vesuvius erupted proper. 
A massive explosion (the thermal energy released was the equivalent of 100,000 Hiroshimas) 
initially the force and energy went upwards, the ash cloud reaching around 20 miles 
(Felix Baumgartner’s freefall  would have started only 4 miles above it). 
And there it stood, a huge warning beacon of what was to come. 
As the column reached higher it flattened out, an ironic umbrella. [x]

After half an hour pumice started falling. I can’t imagine many people consider pumice as lethal, perhaps to dead skin on feet, but not really something to shriek in terror from. Perhaps those in Pompeii were concerned but considered this as bad as it was going to get? [x]

Soon pumice wasn’t the only thing to start falling, lapilli (small cooled pieces of lava) were dropping and so were volcanic bombs. These are larger pieces (over 64mm in diameter) and the bombardment wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. In order to avoid this geological artillery down people would have hunkered down in buildings. However, the falling pumice was settling on these very quickly heating roof tiles up to 120˚C. This may have started fires but roofs were collapsing under the weight of the settling material (estimates suggest around 40 cm of material would cause this). Many would have been killed by buildings collapsing, bearing in mind the heat of the material those trapped underneath may well have been cooked alive. [x]

Come late afternoon escape would have been nigh on impossible, 
the cloud now blotted out any light and most routes were choked with large amounts ash, pumice, bodies and rubble. Those left in Pompeii were trapped. 
It’s around 05:00 on the 25th and the pumice stops falling, assuming you could notice. 
The heat and dust in the air lowered both moisture and oxygen, meaning that anyone alive 
would be gasping for breath. Then came the first knockout punch, the large 
column of ash and gas from Vesuvius became too heavy and parts of it started to collapse 
causing a pyroclastic flow. These are avalanches of gas and debris moving
 several hundred miles an hour and several hundred degrees Celsius. [x]

The first one (heated between 180˚- 220˚C) struck around 06:30,
 the north wall of Pompeii stopped it, but really describing it as a knockout punch 
is a little overstated. A jab at best, the knockout blow was to follow an hour or so later. 
This one was bigger, not checked by a wall and hotter (220˚- 260˚C).
 It finished off anything still alive in an instant. 
Traditionally it was thought that the gases suffocated anyone left, 
but more recent research has pointed to something far more gruesome. [x]

The site was lost for about 1500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599
and broader rediscovery almost 150 years later by Spanish engineer
Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre in 1748. 

Pompeii Museum in 1866. Concrete casts of the volcano's victims in Pompeii Museum, 1866 | source

The objects that lay beneath the city have been well preserved for centuries
because of the lack of air and moisture.
These artifacts provide an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city
during the Pax Romana. 

During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids
between the ash layers that once held human bodies.
This allowed one to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died.

Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. 

Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status
and is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately
2.5 million visitors every year.

It’s the summer of A.D. 79, and the city of Pompeii, Italy is thriving. Soon, things will change. On the fateful day of August 24, the once dormant Mt. Vesuvius volcano erupted, unleashing its fury and spewing volcanic matter down on the city for three straight days. | source of the above picture and text

A black and white photo taken c. 1900 CE of the Roman town of Pompeii, buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of Veusvius in 79 CE. In the foreground are two theatres. | source

Karl Brullov, The Last Day of Pompeii(1830 – 1833) | source

Bodies covered with ash and debris decomposed and left holes. Plaster was poured into holes revealing the position the person died in. | source

The souvenir books says that the burial of Pompeii took place very rapidly over just two days and that the inhabitants were barely able to escape carrying just a few personal belongings. Many died due to the hesitation to leave their homes, poisonous fumes, or suffocation by ash. | source

An old postcard with a dog victim in agony 1927.  source

~ Herculaneum ~

Herculaneum (in modern Italian Ercolano) was an ancient Roman town
destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in 79 A.D.,
located in the territory of today's commune of Ercolano,
in the Italian region of Campania in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.

It is most famous for having been lost, along with Pompeii, Stabiae, Oplontis and the neighbourhood of Monte Bursaccio in Boscoreale, in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 which buried it in superheated pyroclastic material. It is also famous as one of the few ancient cities that can now be seen in almost its original splendour, because unlike Pompeii, its burial was deep enough to ensure the upper storeys of buildings remained intact, and the hotter ash preserved wooden household objects such as beds and doors and even food. Moreover Herculaneum was a wealthier town than Pompeii with an extraordinary density of fine houses, and far more lavish use of coloured marble cladding. 

The discovery in recent years of some 300 skeletons along
the sea shore came as a surprise since it had been assumed that
the town itself was largely evacuated.

Skeletons from Herculaneum: Photo Barbara Wilson Arboleda | source

Poignant snapshots of sudden death: huddled clusters of skeletal remains in what were once beachfront warehouses, immortalized for eternity when Mount Vesuvius smothered this ancient Roman town in A.D. 79. “They died of thermal shock..” Domenico Camardo, an archaeologist, said recently as he surveyed dozens of modern-day skeletal casts of long-ago denizens. They carried with them jewelry, coins, even “20 keys, because they were hoping to return home,” Mr. Camardo added. “They didn’t understand that it was all about to end.” 

First excavated by archaeologists some 30 years ago, 
the warehouses were recently outfitted with walkways and gates to provide access
to these chilling tableaus and will soon be open to the public on special occasions. [x]

Compared with its better-known Vesuvian neighbor, Pompeii, where local officials, constrained by inadequate and mismanaged government funds, have long struggled in their efforts to conserve and protect the sprawling open-air site — and even to prevent the periodic and well publicized collapse of walls — Herculaneum has become a textbook case of successful archaeological conservation [..] “Pompeii is spectacular; Herculaneum more real,” said Judy Lawrence of England, who visited both sites this summer. “This place makes you cry.”

Herculaneum Skeletons: Photo Barbara Wilson Arboleda | source

Herculaneum was closer to Mount Vesuvius and the first 
pyroclastic flows reached Herculaneum before reaching Pompeii. 
Great blasts of accelerated hot air rushed through Herculaneum,
  incinerating the flesh from the bodies of all in their path.
 The result was a sobering tableau of instant annihilation. 

Herculaneum was spared the pumice, the winds 
that day blowing the cloud over in the direction of Pompeii. 
There must have been an acceptance that something wasn’t right, even without 
the pumice the noise and sight of the eruption seems to have incited the locals to flee.
  We know this because of where many of the remains of the inhabitants were found, not in the houses but in the arches on the coastline of the day. [x]

Several hundred bodies were found, presumably waiting for an opportunity to escape. 
Those who had managed to get on a boat before midnight after the eruption had started 
may have stood a chance. Those who hadn’t were met at 01:00 on the 25th
 by the first pyroclastic flow. This one was earlier than the ones which reached 
Pompeii, it was hotter, reaching 500˚C and killing everyone instantly.  [x]

The skeleton called the "Ring Lady" unearthed in Herculaneum.

Panel Of Wall Painting, College Of The Augustali, Herculaneum | source


And for those who enjoy watching documentaries
here is the link to the one i saw recently. 
For additional information you may know or an error you found in the post,
please comment me below.
Until our next time, take care people 

12 σχόλια:

  1. Τι καταθλιπτικό post - πάω να δω το ντοκυμαντέρ, να γίνω χειρότερα.

    1. True, το βιντεο ομως ακομα πιο κατα8λιπτικο. Τι τραγικη ιστορια..

  2. Well, I commented, but I don't see my comment now... So, I do apologize if you get it twice!
    I always found the story of Mt. Vesuvius tragically fascinating, and I had never known about Herculaneum. Thank you for sharing your lovely knowledge and the photographs you found!

    1. Oh i only see one comment so don't worry :) Thank you for reading it and for enjoying the post in general. <3 It was very new discovery the Herculaneum city that is why you may not know. Pompeii was pretty famous for so long because they discovered it first. Hope you are well and take care!

  3. I have read a lot about this, and I have seen some documentaries, and it really fascinates me. It is sad, but very interesting. Thank you for posting this.

    1. Indeed very sad story and at the same time, very unique and beautiful. I mean, at least i don't know, anything similar that happened during history in any other part of the world. So it is fascinating to watch and read things about that subject! Anyway, i am rambling again, thank you soo much for liking the post <3 <3

  4. Thanks for enlighten me. I have heard a lot about Pompeji but not much about Herculaneum. It must have been an horrible death and catastrophe for all the citizens. But the good thing with this horrible event is that we who live long after, can take part of their life and how it looked like.

    1. You are so welcome! I truly like doing those kind of posts :) And i totaly agree with you. The time stopped and we can see what actually happened in there.

  5. Απαντήσεις
    1. Thank you sooo much <3 Sad indeed. The documentaries are even depressing :/


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