Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pompeii: Perfectly preserved Greco-Roman city

Pompeii: Perfectly preserved Greco-Roman city | Guide of Traveller

Around noon, on August 24, 79 c.e., a huge eruption from Mount Vesuvius showered volcanic debris over the city of Pompeii, followed the next day by clouds of blisteringly hot gases. Buildings were destroyed, the population crushed or asphyxiated, and the city was buried beneath a blanket of ash and pumice.

For many centuries Pompeii slept beneath its pall of ash, which perfectly preserved the remains beneath. When these were finally unearthed, in the 1700s, the world was astonished. Here lay a sophisticated Greco-Roman city, home to around twenty thousand people, frozen in time. Grand public buildings included an impressive forum and an amphitheater. Here too were lavish villas and all kinds of houses, dating back to the fourth century b.c.e. Inside were the preserved remains of people sheltering from the eruption; others lay buried as they fled; bakeries were found with loaves still in the ovens. The buildings and their contents revealed day-to-day life in the ancient world—and stirred eighteenth-century interest in all things classical.

Early excavations were haphazard and often damaging, although they constitute the first milestone In the history of modern archeology. More rigorous methods were adopted in the 1800s and even better ones during the 1900s. Each stint brought fresh discoveries and today there is still more to uncover. In 1997, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Torre Anunziata became a combined UNESCO World Heritage site.