Pompeii: What to know?

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Pompeii, an ancient Roman city, was preserved by a volcanic eruption in AD 79, providing insight into daily life in ancient Rome. The city was settled around the 6th century BC and had experienced previous volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. The eruption of Vesuvius buried Pompeii in ash and debris, preserving artifacts and buildings. Pompeii was abandoned and forgotten until its accidental discovery nearly 1,700 years later. Plaster casts of victims and artifacts have been preserved, but the excavation of the site has put it at risk, and preservation efforts continue.

Pompeii is an ancient Roman city preserved from an epic volcanic eruption in AD 79 Thanks to the fact that the eruption was so sudden, the city was perfectly frozen in time, allowing archaeologists to glimpse what daily life might have been like in the ‘ancient Rome. The site of Pompeii is an extremely popular place for tourists to visit and research continues at the site to excavate and preserve artifacts while learning about Roman culture.

According to evidence discovered at the site, Pompeii was settled around the 6th century BC and the site was no stranger to earthquakes and other geological disturbances, as evidenced by traces of previous volcanic eruptions and seismic damage. In fact, a major earthquake in AD 62 destroyed much of the city, some of which was still under construction 17 years later when Vesuvius erupted.

The August 24 eruption of Vesuvius spewed a huge cloud of ash, rock and debris over Pompeii and the surrounding landscape, burying Pompeii in places as deep as 10 feet (four meters) of debris, along with its sister city of Herculaneum. While it is clear that people have attempted to evacuate, many have been caught and crushed by the debris, which has also preserved the remains of lunches, tools used in daily life, an incredible amount of artwork, and a huge assortment of buildings.

After the eruption of Vesuvius, Pompeii was abandoned and stories about the city faded into myths and legends. Nearly 1,700 years later, Pompeii was unearthed by accident and has been constantly excavated and studied ever since. For archaeologists, the discovery of Pompeii has been quite exciting, as it has allowed people to see how Romans actually lived, preserving everything from graffiti on the streets to erotic art in brothels.

One of the creepiest sights in Pompeii are the plaster casts of the victims. When archaeologists began excavating the site, they noticed strange voids in the ash and realized that these voids were the last traces of decaying human and animal remains. By injecting plaster and then resin into these voids, it was possible to perfectly reproduce the victims of the volcano, frozen in their last moments, and some of these casts are exhibited in the places where they were found.

Unfortunately, with the discovery of Pompeii, the city was put at risk. The same mounds of volcanic ash that destroyed the city and its inhabitants also preserved the site’s contents from air, moisture, corrosive materials, and other threats. As the city began to be excavated, parts of it began to decay quite rapidly, raising concerns about the fate of the site. Archaeologists today focus on preserving as much of Pompeii and its artifacts as possible, using a variety of tools.

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