Rome may not have fallen in a day, but Pompeii did – literally! It took just one day – 24 August, 79 AD, for it to get buried for the next seventeen centuries, under the volcanic ash of the fierce Mount Vesuvius. The disappearance of this city reflects irony of sorts as the time when the disaster took place; there was not even a Latin word for ‘volcano’! Plus, so much debris was thrown out that it apparently blocked the sun rays. An estimated 2000 people out of the 15,000 population died, and the rest shifted to the neighbouring cities.
If you believe Pompeii was just another Roman city with its myriad tales of warfare, gladiatorial fights, historical monuments and grandeur? Think again. During the first century AD, the city developed into a sprawling tourist destination with luxurious resort for its wealthy visitors, Roman villas, an amphitheatre, several temples, brothels and highly mechanized waterway systems.
Facebook may have given us the concept of wall posts as a form of social-networking, but Pompeii residents knew it aeons before Internet even came into existence. Think of it as the earliest version of the same Facebook wall post, except that the residents of the city revealed their social networking skills by writing on actual walls! They scribbled literary quotes, wrote greeting to friends, drew graffiti about political campaigns and advertised their products on the walls of their own houses and on other’s walls for which the message was intended.
When the excavation work began in 1748, many of the buildings of Pompeii uncovered by archaeologists were in remarkably good condition and many of the walls were still covered with frescoes. Hundreds of well-preserved artifacts were also found. The volcanic ash completely covered the city, thus preserving the buildings and infrastructure of this lost metropolis. It was also witnessed that the eruption of Vesuvius was quite sudden, and many of Pompeii’s inhabitants lost their lives while going about their daily work.
Off to the past and on to the present, Pompeii is now a major tourist attraction. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it attracts more than 2 million visitors every year.
If the above facts intrigue you to explore Pompeii, then get, set to travel back in time and experience the city like never before!