Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Pompeii was mostly destroyed and buried under 4 to 6 metres of ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in August in 79 BC. The people and buildings of Pompeii were covered in up to twelve different layers of tephra, which rained down for about 6 hours. By the time of its destruction the population of Pompeii was approximately 20,000, with a complex water system, an amphitheatre, gymnasium and a port.

Pompeii was lost for about 1500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader rediscovery almost 150 years later by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre in 1748. The objects that lay beneath the city have been well preserved for centuries because of the lack of air and moisture. 

The blocks in the road allowed pedestrians to cross the street without having to step onto the road itself which doubled up as Pompeii's drainage and sewage disposal system. The spaces between the blocks allowed horse-drawn carts to pass along the road.

In 89 BC, after the final occupation of the city by Roman General Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Pompeii was finally annexed to the Roman Republic. During this period, Pompeii underwent a vast process of infrastructural development. These include an amphitheatre, a palaestra with a central natatorium or swimming pool, and an aqueduct that provided water for more than 25 street fountains, at least four public baths, and a large number of private houses (domūs) and businesses.

A snapshot of Roman life in the 1st century: the baths, many houses, and some out-of-town villas like the Villa of the Mysteries remain well preserved.

Rich reds adorning paintings in Pompeii were originally ochre – Italian researchers say that sensuous ”Pompeian red” is the result of an accident. Before Mount Vesuvius blew its top and buried the city, it emitted high-temperature gas which turned the original yellow color that dark red. It’s not an entirely new discovery – ochre was also the main color at Herculaneum, sister city also buried by Vesuvius.

The amphitheatre has been cited by modern scholars as a model of sophisticated design, particularly in the area of crowd control. In 1971 Pink Floyd recorded the live concert film Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii, performing six songs in the amphitheatre. The audience consisted only of the film's production crew and some local children.

The origin of the word Pompeii would appear to be the Oscan word for the number five, pompe, which suggests that either the community consisted of five hamlets or, perhaps, it was settled by a family group (gens Pompeia).

Pompeii has been a tourist destination for over 250 years. Today it has UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately 2,5 million visitors every year.

Pompeii: The Mystery Of People Frozen In Time 

Yet no-one has been able to unravel the full story that is at the heart of our fascination: how did those bodies become frozen in time? For the first time the BBC has been granted unique access to these strange, ghost-like body casts that populate the ruins and, using the latest forensic technology, the chance to peer beneath the surface of the plaster in order to rebuild the faces of two of the people who were killed in this terrible tragedy. 

Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii 

Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii is a 1972 concert film directed by Adrian Maben. Although the band are playing a typical live set from this point in their career, the film is notable for having no audience. The main footage in and around the Pompeii amphitheatre was filmed over four days in October 1971. The film has subsequently been released on video numerous times, and in 2003 a "Director's Cut" DVD appeared which combines the original footage from 1971 with more contemporary shots of space and the area around Pompeii, assembled by Maben. 

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