JWU Student Blogs

"Eh-eh-o-eh-o...Eh-eh-o-eh-o" {Pompeii}

Being deadly afraid of any natural disaster, I was dreading the excursion to Pompeii. The only thing I knew about this “place” before this trip was that it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption sometime in the past. Never would I have imagined that it used to be an actual city that inhabited 10,000 to 12,000 people and that it was 160 acres big. I still didn’t realized how big it was until I pulled the map and realized that Pompeii was bigger than Castelammare (The city we are staying in).

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As we followed the guide through the streets of Pompeii we leaned quite a lot. Pompeii was destroyed by an eruption once before the famous one of 79 AD (that covered Pompeii with 20 feet of ashes) and most of what remains of the city today was build on lava stone. Pompeii being a coastal city (300 yards from the sea at the time) served as a port and welcomed sailors from the Mediterranean Sea. Pompeii was an agricultural city with main productions of olive oil, onions, and most of all wine. We can see this with the amount of jars that were found (the wine was stored in those jars to keep their cool or warm, they served as thermos).

Pompeii was a commercial town with almost all the businesses of the Roman Empire present within its walls. This explained the presence of at least 1,200 shops in the city.

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From an archeological stand point Pompeii is a perfect representation of a typical Ancient Roman city and showed how such a city worked. There are vestiges of a Basilica, a Forum, a communal business where the rulers of the city had their offices, an amphitheater, and a brothel (used by sailors passing by the city) among other things.

You can see the skeleton of a city and you can easily picture the life of the people at the time. All the roads are still here, the terms, the shops, everything. The only thing missing are the roofs of the buildings. Only 66 % of Pompeii is excavated, so there is still 33% that is still unknown of and bodies still buried.

In the hangar along with the jars is a man frozen in a sitting position, and the famous pregnant women covering her eyes clearly seeing her death coming.

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At some point our guide lead us outside the walls of the city to go up a hill and have a panoramic view of the ruins.

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As we walked outside we could see evidence of events that occurred before the eruption such wholes of the outside walls. We were told they were the marks of rocks that were thrown at it during a civil war in the 80’s AD.

So to finish off our visit we went to the amphitheater and experienced the amazing acoustic is produces, then went in the tiny brothel that had very descriptive pictures of what happened in there (I will spare you the pictures).

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So we strolled the streets of ancient Pompeii singing the song “Pompeii” from Bastille (very cliché isn’t it?), with the Vesuvius staring at us, under a bright sun and soaked in all the history that this once beautiful city had to offer.

Valerie Camille