Pompeii – an Environmental Calamity Set in Stone

ImageWhat do you think about when you see news of another natural disaster killing thousands of people? Has media coverage of cyclones, tsunamis, bush fires, and famines desensitized your feelings so that you feel more for a road accident victim in your neighbourhood than masses of people who you feel no connection with? The photo above, of my American friend John in Pompeii, seems to catch the moment of realisation that, nearly 2000 years ago, this was a man like me, whose life just ended like switching off a light.ImageImageSome visitors to this amazing place were only expecting a small ruin and were surprised to find a Roman town which once housed 20,000 people. Except for the lack of a roof on most buildings, it is almost as it was when people looked over these town walls into the rich agricultural fields that surround the town.ImageImageImageWalking in through the Gateway in the wall, imagine driving your donkey with its heavy cart over the deeply rutted road. The only reminder that you have not arrived in this town prior to Vesuvius blowing its top in 77 AD, is the dress of the tourists thronging its main east west road.ImageOur guide directs us towards a traffic jam on a narrow side street. He says it was always this way on market day outside the largest of the cities many brothels. A feature of this particular establishment was the wall murals that allowed clients to point out the particular services they required.ImageImagePompeii had an articulated water supply carried along lead pipes. Wealthy households had the water running into their homes but water was supplied publicly to everyone. The water was carried in lead pipe which are still in the ground. When we travelled to Bath in England we were told that the lead for Pompeii actually came from the mines in England. Except for the new brass tap, this is an original drinking fountain.ImageImageImageLooming in the background is continental Europe’s only active volcano. Vesuvius is just as dangerous today, well over due for an eruption with nearly a million people living in close proximity.ImageHere are pictures of some “old crocks” in Pompeii. The Pottery in the shed has been recovered, in many cases with contents intact. The walking crocks are Julie in I amongst the ruins.ImageImageImageAncient Pompeii ruins on the left with modern villas on the right. Only two-thirds of Pompeii has been uncovered in excavations of the site which began in 1748. They have revealed well-preserved remains of buildings, mosaics, furniture, and the personal possessions of the city’s inhabitants.


2 thoughts on “Pompeii – an Environmental Calamity Set in Stone

  1. Actually I was thinking how much it looked like he was holding a beer in one hand and a TV remote control in the other just before Vesuvius got him. Also, I was among those expecting a smaller ruin, rather than an entire city. Truly amazing site. Great pix and dialogue!

    • Love the TV remote and beer can comment, John but I suspect you are putting on the wise cracking persona loved in US sitcoms.
      The expression I have captured shows empathy for someone like you or me, but from nearly 2000 years ago, who hadn’t planned to end his days that way.

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