Pompeii: Inside Vesuvius's Fury

By: Jack, Paige, Tayler, Aisha, and Hannah

The Town at the foot of Disaster

Pompeii was a quirky town, located in modern-day Naples, Italy. It sat peacefully near the foot of a beautiful mountain, which only seemed to add to its glory. The bustling city was founded in seventh or sixth century BC, and was conquered by the Roman Republic in 80 BC. By the time of its unfortunate destruction in 79 AD, Pompeii was home to roughly 11,000 people and featured a complex water system, a port, an amphitheater, and more. Indeed, by the tine of its fall, Pompeii was a very developed and complex city. By the first AD, numerous towns had been founded, feeding off of the fertile soil and impressive mountain landscape.

The Wrath of an Image of Beauty

On August 24, 79 AD, Pompeii was, along with every other Roman town, ironically recovering from the annual Festival of Fire, a celebration of the fire god(s). Any warnings of an eruption would have been overlooked; small tremors were common in the areas surrounding Vesuvius, and smoke was probably also so. So when the mountain blew its top for the first time in centuries, people were generally unprepared. But though the eruption was tremendous, and was most defiantly startling, no damage seemed in sight. The people who had fled the town eventually returned to their homes But soot, ash, toxins, and debris was slowly, but surely, descending from the heavens. The debris rained down on Pompeii and the surrounding areas, burying them in 25 feet of tephra, and up to twelve different layers of it. New discoveries also show that a surge of extreme heat also may have been responsible for the death of thousands. After the towns near Vesuvius were smothered in cinder, they were abandoned, and with time, their names and locations became a whisper in the minds of few before eventually being forgotten all together.

Vesuvius's Blessing

With Pompeii and surrounding cities completely blanketed in ash, people suffocated. But the very substance that destroyed the town's glory also preserved it for nearly two thousand years. A digging project unearthed a part of Pompeii in 1599. In time, the entire city was unearthed. Archaeologists found, to their astonishment, that most of the town was left as it was pre-79 AD. Buildings, streets, people and animals, even delicate jars and food; all were found in-tact and recognizable. Now, the site of Pompeii is a very popular tourist attraction, with 2.5 million visitors each year. It has been this was for 250 years and will likely be for generations to come.