Little Bits of History

Pompeii Disappears

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2010

Ruins of Pompeii

August 24, AD 79: Mount Vesuvius erupts and buries Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplonti, and Stabiae under ash, preserving the ancient Roman cities in their final moments. Earthquakes began rocking the area 17 years prior to the eruption. Major quakes in 62 AD destroyed the aqueduct to the area along with damaging many buildings. During the volcanic eruption, Pliny the Elder was in the harbor and was killed while trying to rescue people from the area.

Pliny the Younger, his nephew, wrote an account of the disaster. He stated that quakes had been felt for several days prior the eruption, but many felt that this was no more than what had happened years ago. In fact, repairs were taking place when the volcano blew.

The beginning or plinian stage, named after Pliny the Younger and his descriptive writing, threw dust, ashes, cinders, and rocks high into the atmosphere, and lasted for hours. No lava flowed in this stage. The next stage was the expulsion of superhot steam and mud which flowed down the sides of the volcano. This stage covered Herculaneum, it took about four minutes for the boiling mud to reach the city – a distance of 7 km [4 mi]. It was buried under nearly 60 feet of superhot mud that dried nearly as hard as cement

Pompeii, with a presumed population of around 20,000, was also covered with the ash and then mud from the volcano. Survivors of the catastrophe tried to return after the mud cooled and retrieve goods by digging shafts into the mud, but gave up after many unsuccessful attempts.

The two cities were abandoned and forgotten. Herculaneum was rediscovered in 1738 and Pompeii in 1746. The excavation of the sites revealed much about the everyday life of the ancient Romans – their devotion to art, their forums and amphitheaters, and their open sexuality, which has led to some censorship.

“We live too much in books and not enough in nature, and we are very much like the simpleton of a Pliny the Younger, who went on studying a Greek author while before his eyes Vesuvius was overwhelming five cities beneath the ashes.” – Anatole France

“The pattern is that every 2,000 to 3,000 years, there is a monstrous eruption (of Mount Vesuvius). And it has now been about 2,000 years.” – Michael Sheridan

“Nature, as we know her, is no saint.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The extent of the catastrophe that threatens gives the measure of the transformation that will be necessary in order to master it.” – Lewis Mumford

Also on this day, in 1869 the waffle iron is patented.
Bonus Link: In 1853, George Crum
invents potato chips.

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  1. George Crum « Little Bits of History said, on August 25, 2010 at 10:48 am

    […] day, in 1869 the waffle iron is patented. Bonus Link: In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupts and buries Pompeii. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Inventor of Potato Chips- George CrumOrigin of […]


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