The City Of Ashes

Posted on: January 29th, 2013 by paul

Pompeii was once a thriving city full of wealthy individuals that overlooked the ocean. This city had a number of modern amenities common in Roman cities such as a controlled distribution of water to bathrooms, homes, businesses and public fountains through underground pipes and heating systems that consisted of hot air flowing through cavities in the walls and floors. Despite all their advances in technology and their wealth the city of Pompeii was destroyed in 19 hours by the unforgiving Mount Vesuvius.

Pompeii – Photo courtesy of Jeremy Thompson

After its destruction the once prosperous town was forgotten for almost 1,700 years before it was rediscovered by archeologists in 1748. Perfectly preserved under 9 feet of volcanic ash this city has given the world an amazing insight into Roman life back in A.D. 79. With two thirds of the city now excavated, tourists have the chance to walk through the same streets that were once filled with Roman citizens.

Walk through streets of shops, bars and bakeries that were once alive with people doing their daily shopping. You’ll notice cement blocks in the road that are one of the earliest speed bumps. These bumps were designed so pedestrians could cross the street while avoiding the waste as well as slowing down carriages that raced through the street to keep the wheels from splashing people – talk about ingenuity! Roman’s also used small tiles called ‘cat eyes’ in the construction of their roads as the light from a candle or the moon would reflect off the tiles giving those walking more light.

You definitely don’t want to miss a trip to the amphitheater. In the eastern part of the city, located by the Sarno Gate, sits the earliest surviving permanent amphitheater in Italy. Here as many as 20,000 could watch gladiators fight and a number of sports. Then head over to the Western side of the city to look through the Temple of Apollo where some of the oldest items have been discovered. The city was so well preserved under the ash that even the paintings on the wall survived; the Lupanar, an ancient brothel, has a number of frescoes depicting services offered!

Mount Vesuvius – Photo courtesy of Glen Scarborough


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