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By Marty Way

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They must have talked to each other in Pompeii. They had multi-holed public toilets and sat side by side in one grand room. Surely someone must have quipped, “What’s up with Mt Vesuvio? Its been rumbling, belching and groaning like cart full of slaves lately.” Sometimes its important to ask the right question.

Then Mt Vesuvius blew. Day turned into night as a cloud of burning fragments of pumice (lapilli) was sent kilometres into the air and began raining down, covering Pompeii. Residents had no way of escaping and within days the city was under ten meters or lapilli. Then a pyroclastic-flow (a lahar) swept over the erstwhile city, temperatures reached 600 degrees Celsius and the ruins were sealed into a sort of time capsule that folklore forgot about.IMG_6214.jpeg

Fast forward to 1579 when architect Dominica Fontana was digging a canal and hit an unexpected marble structure. The archeology began shortly thereafter and continues today. Of the 66 hectares of original Pompeii, 44 have been excavated.

Everyone knows the tragic story of Pompeii (which I just compressed into three paragraphs) and has seen photos of plaster casts of Pompeians anguished in their doom. This archeological site is a chance to walk on 2000-year-old Roman streets, snoop around ancient houses, temples, shops, cafes, amphitheaters, a brothel…and of course those toilet rooms where neighbours probably talked about money. The city was adorned with colourful frescos, sculpture and ornate architecture, befitting of the wealth that resided at this prosperous commercial port in the first century A.D.c06cfeb0-7423-11ee-9329-75d5aba7c676.jpegIMG_6199.jpeg..

So, how did the rumbling of an imminent volcanic eruption get missed in the day-to-day of Pompeian life? Archeologists surmise that the Romans knew little about volcanos or that Mt Vesuvius is one. The dramatic demise of Pompeii could just be point in history where humans learned a hot, gassy lesson the hard way. So, are cities still built close to active volcanos? Of course.

Posted by WayWayFar 17:27 Archived in Italy

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