Tuesday 21 August 2012


The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was partially destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 m of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Pompeii was lost for nearly 1700 years before its rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately 2,500,000 visitors every year.

This post is part of Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme,
and also part of the Our World Tuesday meme.
Entering the archaeological area
View of the forum 
The amphitheatre
One of the major streets, flanked by shops and houses 
The atrium of one of the villas. Pompeii was a prosperous holiday city and the residents were largely wealthy and patrons of the arts 
A "thermopolium" or take-away shop where the ancient Roman version of "fast food" was sold. Wine was also to be had a-plenty here!
A covered portico 
The private gardens of Pompeii were elaborate and sumptuously decorated
The nascent Venus - a famous fresco in a villa garden
Ancient Roman graves and funerary monuments were situated just outside the city walls and a number of graves are seen here

A fine funerary monument
The Villa of the Mysteries or Villa dei Misteri is a well preserved ruin of a Roman Villa which lies some 400 metres northwest of Pompeii, southern Italy. Although covered with metres of ash and other volcanic material, the villa sustained only minor damage in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, and the majority of its walls, ceilings, and most particularly its frescoes survived largely undamaged.
The Villa is named for the paintings in one room of the residence. This space may have been a triclinium, and is decorated with very fine frescoes. Although the actual subject of the frescoes is hotly debated, the most common interpretation of the images is scenes of the initiation of a woman into a special cult of Dionysus, a mystery cult that required specific rites and rituals to become a member. Of all other interpretations, the most notable is that of Paul Veyne, who believes that it depicts a young woman undergoing the rites of marriage.The Villa had both very fine rooms for dining and entertaining and more functional spaces. A wine-press was discovered when the Villa was excavated and has been restored in its original location. It was not uncommon for the homes of the very wealthy to include areas for the production of wine, olive oil, or other agricultural products, especially since many elite Romans owned farmland or orchards in the immediate vicinity of their villas.
Giuseppe Fiorelli (1823–1896) was an Italian archaeologist born in Naples, Italy. His excavations at Pompeii helped preserve the city. 'Fiorelli ... developed the use of plaster casts to recreate the forms of plants and human bodies.' Fiorelli is most famous for his plaster casts, produced by a process named after him: the Fiorelli process. He realised that where a corpse had been buried in ash, it had rotted over time and a cavity remained. Whenever an excavator discovered a cavity, plaster of Paris was poured in and left to harden. The ash around the plaster was then carefully removed, so that a plaster replica of a person at the moment of their death remained. This process gave information about how people had died in the eruption, what they were doing in their final moments and what sort of clothing they wore. Fiorelli also took the topography of the town and divided it into a system of 'regiones', 'insulae' and 'domus' - and he developed the use of plaster casts to recreate the forms of plants and human bodies that had been covered by the volcanic ash, and had then left a hole - shaped in the form of the plant or person - in that ash after putrefaction.
Another plaster cast of a person who died in Pompeii 
Close-up of a plaster cast of a person who died in Pompeii
Karl Briullov (1799–1852) - "The Last Day of Pompeii", 1830 - 1833. Oil on canvas. 456.5 x 651 cm. The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia


  1. Thanks for the reminder of an extraordinary historical event, Nick. I had the privilege of visiting Pompeii as a very naive 22 year old - it was an amazing experience to be there. The artwork that survived was, as you've shown, remarkable.

  2. What an awesome place to visit. thanks for the great tour and for sharing your trip. The photos are amazing. Have a great day.

  3. What a superb post for the day, Nick, and your photos are awesome! Such an incredible, amazing place! So much history -- sad, but fascinating! Thank you so much! I learned a lot about Pompeii that I didn't know -- it has always fascinated me!! Have a great week!

  4. A sad place to visit. My daughters went silent thinking of the pain they must have gone through. Great pics Nick, brought back lot of memories.

  5. Amazing info in this post. It's hard to imagine that these relics, destroyed but reborn, are still alive today to give us a glimpse into the life and culture of those so many years ago.

  6. Wow! Pompeii has always fascinated me as a child. I wish that one day I could visit such an amazing place.

    Beneath Thy Feet

  7. awesome photos! the portico is my favorite--how grand this city must be before the the catastrophic eruption. i saw a documentary about Pompeii and it gave me goosebumps. can't help but wonder if we could be another Pompeii someday.

  8. What a great tour. A place I definitely want to visit. Totally fascinated by the history.

  9. What a grand "feel" for this legendary place you have given us! I did not know about the graves preserved just outside the city walls! I am sure Pompeii still moves the soul!

  10. Great photos! I had read about Pompeii years ago.

  11. Beautiful photos from a wonderful place. Pompeii has always fascinated me. Thanks for sharing.
    Have a great day.

  12. It must have been a horrific time for all the inhabitants of the town and surrounding districts, Nick. Thank you for all the details, especially concerning the plaster casts.

    Two and a half million visitors a year, is a lot of shoe leather for a site to cope with.

  13. One of our favourite places :)

  14. Fascinating post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  15. amazing!
    i would love to see this!!! one day, perhaps... :) thanks for all these pics.
    in boston they recently had an exhibit about pompeii and i didnt go, so stupid!

  16. Thank you for this wonderful post which teaches me new things about old Pompeii.
    I would love to be there or better yet, to dig there someday.


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