"A Day In Pompeii" Gives Viewers A New Appreciation Of What Occurred In 79 A.D.

Submitted by: squrlz4ever 4 months ago in Misc Science


This 8-minute animation takes you step-by-step through the destruction of the Roman city by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Be sure to watch in full screen.
There are 21 comments:
Male 54
"A day in Pompeii"....also known as *Ash Wednesday*.
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Male 1,391
I would love to see these folks make a Krakatoa 1883 video.
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Male 7,224
OK people, it is time to get your bodies ready for summer! Yes it is time to discard those pounds of unwanted flesh and skitter over to inhabit your new human host and enjoy some sunshine
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Male 1,996
Great post.  I was fortunate enough to see the exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago in 2006 and then actually visit Pompeii later that year.  Note that if you visit Pompeii there are only the remains of buildings, none of the interesting stuff is on the site of the ruins - You will need to travel quite a ways to see that.  In any case it was intesting how advanced they were and that there were signs of the impending eruption.  They had no idea what was in store for them.
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Male 8,012
woodyville06 Thanks for commenting, Woody. I have not yet visited Pompeii or Herculaneum, but hope to someday. The eruption of Vesuvius has long fascinated me, largely because of Pliny the Younger's letters, one of which I've quoted from below.
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Male 864
squrlz4ever @woodyville06 I do disagree. I visited around the same year and it was fascinating. You can see some of the oldest still life paintinfs in the world at the house of Vettii. They painted into drying plaster so its preserved. You can see the atrium the water the old safe box they stored their wealth. 

Walk around the streets you can see little penises carved on the cur  pointing to doors. This represented brothels. Inside the largest you can see racy artwork  numbers which confused archaeologists until cleaner pointed out it was a price list. 
There is graffiti giving life to the old sailors city.

Tou can see the remains of food shops. Romans didnt cook at home they'd eat out. You can see the giant vases whrre shrimp and other delicacies were stored for paying customers.

I can go on. Id recommend going squrlz and not just to see the plaster casts. Which can be a bit freaky as  you will look at them and then suddenly see a bone sticking out and remember that it is actually a dead body in there. 
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Male 8,012
jayme21 Yes, I very much want to go to Pompeii. Thanks for sharing your memories and observations. One of the more interesting artifacts I've seen photographed were loaves of bread that had been placed in the ovens on the day of the eruption that were never removed until archaeologists found them almost 2,000 years later.

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Male 8,258
See, that's why I always check the BBC  in the morning.  " Pompeii;  98.5% chance of total destruction.  Overcast for the rest of the week." 
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Male 8,012
LordJim You're making me laugh a lot lately, LordJim. Love it.
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Male 630
Interesting.  From what I've seen is that this was due to something suddenly and catastrophic.  But what it looks like is that residents most likely noticed the events taking place over time.  Could it be the people caught by this in the end were instructed to stay and protect estates due to being servants?
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Male 8,012
Beaverfever Interesting idea about the servants being instructed to stay behind to protect the villas. I'll bet you're right.

Yes, the destruction of Pompeii took place over the course of about two days. There are letters from Pliny the Younger that describe the eruption vividly (he was across the Bay of Naples in a town called Misenum), as well as a rescue mission mounted by his uncle, Pliny the Elder, which cost the Elder his life. Many residents of Pompeii had taken refuge in boat pens facing the bay, thinking such a protected location by the water would save them, or perhaps thinking there was a chance someone would sail in and rescue them. They were all killed, of course, when the pyroclastic flows overtook everything.

Here's the text (translated from the Latin) of Pliny the Younger's letter to Tacitus, describing the events. Many of the details he gives he learned from men who had been with his uncle and managed to survive. (This is lengthy, and I apologize for posting all of it; but it's a great letter and I don't want to merely link to it or edit it down.)

My uncle was stationed at Misenum, in active command of the fleet. On 24 August, in the early afternoon, my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had been out in the sun, had taken a cold bath, and lunched while lying down, and was then working at his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to a place which would give him the best view of the phenomenon. It was not clear at that distance from which mountain the cloud was rising (it was afterwards known to be Vesuvius); its general appearance can best be expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed. In places it looked white, elsewhere blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ashes it carried with it.

My uncle's scholarly acumen saw at once that it was important enough for a closer inspection, and he ordered a boat to be made ready, telling me I could come with him if I wished. I replied that I preferred to go on with my studies, and as it happened he had himself given me some writing to do.

As he was leaving the house he was handed a message from Rectina, wife of Tascus whose house was at the foot of the mountain, so that escape was impossible except by boat. She was terrified by the danger threatening her and implored him to rescue her from her fate. He changed his plans, and what he had begun in a spirit of inquiry he completed as a hero. He gave orders for the warships to be launched and went on board himself with the intention of bringing help to many more people besides Rectina, for this lovely stretch of coast was thickly populated.

He hurried to the place which everyone else was hastily leaving, steering his course straight for the danger zone. He was entirely fearless, describing each new movement and phase of the portent to be noted down exactly as he observed them. Ashes were already falling, hotter and thicker as the ships drew near, followed by bits of pumice and blackened stones, charred and cracked by the flames: then suddenly they were in shallow water, and the shore was blocked by the debris from the mountain.

For a moment my uncle wondered whether to turn back, but when the helmsman advised this he refused, telling him that Fortune stood by the courageous and they must make for Pomponianus at Stabiae. He was cut off there by the breadth of the bay (for the shore gradually curves round a basin filled by the sea) so that he was not as yet in danger, though it was clear that this would come nearer as it spread. Pomponianus had therefore already put his belongings on board ship, intending to escape if the contrary wind fell. This wind was of course full in my uncle's favour, and he was able to bring his ship in. He embraced his terrified friend, cheered and encouraged him, and thinking he could calm his fears by showing his own composure, gave orders that he was to be carried to the bathroom. After his bath he lay down and dined; he was quite cheerful, or at any rate he pretended he was, which was no less courageous.

Meanwhile on Mount Vesuvius broad sheets of fire and leaping flames blazed at several points, their bright glare emphasized by the darkness of night. My uncle tried to allay the fears of his companions by repeatedly declaring that these were nothing but bonfires left by the peasants in their terror, or else empty houses on fire in the districts they had abandoned. Then he went to rest and certainly slept, for as he was a stout man his breathing was rather loud and heavy and could be heard by people coming and going outside his door. By this time the courtyard giving access to his room was full of ashes mixed with pumice stones, so that its level had risen, and if he had stayed in the room any longer he would never have got out. He was wakened, came out and joined Pomponianus and the rest of the household who had sat up all night.

They debated whether to stay indoors or take their chance in the open, for the buildings were now shaking with violent shocks, and seemed to be swaying to and fro as if they were torn from their foundations. Outside, on the other hand, there was the danger of failing pumice stones, even though these were light and porous; however, after comparing the risks they chose the latter. In my uncle's case one reason outweighed the other, but for the others it was a choice of fears. As a protection against falling objects they put pillows on their heads tied down with cloths.

Elsewhere there was daylight by this time, but they were still in darkness, blacker and denser than any ordinary night, which they relieved by lighting torches and various kinds of lamp. My uncle decided to go down to the shore and investigate on the spot the possibility of any escape by sea, but he found the waves still wild and dangerous. A sheet was spread on the ground for him to lie down, and he repeatedly asked for cold water to drink.

Then the flames and smell of sulphur which gave warning of the approaching fire drove the others to take flight and roused him to stand up. He stood leaning on two slaves and then suddenly collapsed, I imagine because the dense, fumes choked his breathing by blocking his windpipe which was constitutionally weak and narrow and often inflamed. When daylight returned on the 26th - two days after the last day he had been seen - his body was found intact and uninjured, still fully clothed and looking more like sleep than death.
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Male 8,258
squrlz4ever Now there's a hero. Started for the science,  stayed for the humanity. 
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Male 235
squrlz4ever What's scary is that the area is now very heavily populated, and there are also dangerous volcanic vents to the NW of Naples as well as Vesuvius to the SW.  It seems from the Roman historical records that the mountain gave a lot of what we now know were signs of an impending eruption, such as increasing tremors, but the ancient people had no clue what those meant.

Hopefully the volcano will do that in the future before another eruption, unlike Chaiten in Chile, which only started shaking 24 hrs before it had its big eruption, or Hekla in Iceland, which commonly gives an hour's warning before it has a major blast.  Imagine the chaos and death in Naples if that was the case.
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Male 8,012
stevopusser Wow. Interesting information, Steve, and a lot to think about. As you say, let's hope Naples gets some advance notice should something terrible occur. Thanks for the comment.
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Female 5,791
Wait until Yellowstone goes.  You aint seen nothin' yet.
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Male 235
melcervini Despite the alarmists on Youtube looking for the views, there is no sign of increasing activity at Yellowstone.  The last minor eruption took place there 70,000 years ago.  There are a lot of more calderas on Earth that are much more restless and scarey, including some in the Andes that are inflating like balloons as new melt is rising into their chambers.
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Female 5,791
stevopusser I never saw anything on youtube, I like the earthquake sites and 808 earthquakes in 365 days isn't terribly alarming considering the area, but its more than average and worth watching.  It might never happen in this lifetime, but it could go sooner.  They have no way of knowing for sure.
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Male 12,260
melcervini Republicans will have a tough time winning elections for a couple decades after that.
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Female 5,791
holygod Ug will trade rock for woman and furs.
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Male 17,305
I suspect real estate prices may have been affected.
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