Facts About Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius
1.The city and people of Pompeii did not know that Vesuvius was a volcano, as it hadn’t erupted in 1,800 years
2.It was extimated that just over 13% of the total population of Pompeii died in the initial blast. A population of around 15,000 people and an estimated 2,000 died.
3.Pompeii was originally settled around the 7th century BC by the Oscan people who were descendants of the Neolithic inhabitants of Campania (the region of southern Italy). The port city was in a prime location for trade as well as farming. The rich volcanic soil from earlier eruptions of Vesuvius created prime farmland for grapes and olive trees.
4.Pompeii is so well preserved because the city was buried so quickly by volcanic ash and it now provides snapshots of past life in a Roman city
5.Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying Pompeii shortly after noon on the 24th of August.
6.Pliny described the eruption as follows, “It resembled a (Mediterranean) pine more than any other tree. Like a very high tree the cloud went high and expanded in different branches….sometimes white, sometimes dark and stained by the sustained sand and ashes.”
7.The Ancient city of Pompeii was not discovered until 1748, when workers stumbled upon it while building King Charles III Palace.
8.Before the eruption of 79 AD there was not even a word for Volcano, which was created afterwards. Volcano derives from the word Vulcan – the Roman God of the Flame and Metal Forgery.
9.At a height of 1,281 metres high and estimated age of 17,000 years it’s said that Mount Vesuvius has erupted over 50 times.
10.The Ruins of Pompeii are visited by over 2.6 million people per year.
11.Mount Vesuvius actually has two craters, one which was the original crater and another crater created when the top of the mountain caved in during a previous eruption.
12.The pyroclastic flows from the eruption can move at 450mph / 724 km/h with temperatures reaching as high as 1,830°F or 999°C.
13.The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD over the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum spewed 1.5 million tons of lava per second.
14.The objects buried underneath Pompeii were preserved for almost 2,000 years, but after being unearthed, natural and man-made forces have led to their decline. This has concerned archaeologists and Pompeii was included in the 1996 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund, and again in 1998 and in 2000. It has been estimated that $335 million are needed for the conservation of the site.
15.In 1819, when King Francis I of Naples visited the Pompeii exhibition with his wife and daughter he was so embarrassed by the erotic artwork that he decided to have it locked away in a secret cabinet, accessible only to “people of mature age and respected morals.”
16.Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on mainland Europe and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.
17.Mount Vesuvius erupted six times in the 18th century, eight times in the 19th century and in 1906, 1929 and 1944. There has been no eruption since 1944!!!
18.The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is the oldest stone building of its kind known to mankind, dating back to 80 BC.
19.Ancient Pompeii was particularly well known for producing its own fish sauce outside of town called Garum, referred to by Pliny the Elder himself who died during a rescue trip by ship during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
20.The Catastrophic eruption on the 24th, August 79 AD was said to have lasted more than 24 hours.
21.After a natural disaster the damage was so extensive and the effect of the tragedy so great that no attempts were made to reoccupy the area, maybe due to the fact that Pompeii was buried under 14 to 17 feet of ash and pumice. Looters, however, did return to Pompeii, digging tunnels through the ash and debris and making away with many of the city’s riches.
22.Had the eruption taken place on any other day, the people of Pompeii might have stood a better chance of escape. Usually the wind blew in a southwesterly direction, which would have blown the column out over the Bay of Naples. But on that fateful day, the wind was blowing in a northwesterly direction – straight over Pompeii.
23.The last eruption of Mount Vesuvius occurred in 1944, during the height of the Second World War, destroying U.S. bomber planes stationed a few kilometres away. A long period of calm usually means an eruption may happen soon.
24.Over 3 million people live in the immediate area of Mount Vesuvius. More people live dangerously close to it than to any other volcano anywhere in the world.
25.At 150-acres, the walled city of Pompeii is the world’s largest excavation and archaeologist site.
26.Before the eruption, Pompeii was a famous location for rich Romans that spent holidays there.
27.Some of the homes in downtown ancient Pompeii had already been present since the year 300 BC. Therefore, by 79 AD and the time of the eruption, these houses were older than what America is today.
28.In Greek mythology – Servius informs us that the name Pompeii derives frompumpe, which was the commemorative procession in honour of Hercules’ victory over the giants.
29.Following seismic activity and coastal changes, Pompeii now stands 2km inland but it would have been much closer to the sea and the mouth of the Sarno in Roman times and around four metres lower.
30.Even Nero the Roman Emperor is thought to have had a villa or holiday home near Pompeii and it is to be remembered that his wife Poppaea Sabina was a native of the town.
Vesuvius and Pompeii
We even have a detailed account of the disaster recorded by Pliny the Younger, who interviewed survivors and recorded events in a letter to his friend Tacitus.
Pompeii was slowly recovering from a major earthquake that rocked the city in February of A.D. 62. The shallow quake, originating beneath Mount Vesuvius, had caused major damage to the springs and piping that provided the city’s water. Reconstruction was being carried out on several temples and public buildings. Seneca, a historian, recorded that the quakes lasted for several days and also heavily damaged the town of Herculaneum and did minor damage to the city of Naples before subsiding. The major quake was followed by several minor shakes throughout the following years.
Because seismic activity was so common in the area, citizens paid little attention in early August of 79 when several quakes shook the earth beneath Herculaneum and Pompeii. People were unprepared for the explosion that took place shortly after noon on the 24th of August. Pliny, watching from the town of Misenum, approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) from Pompeii, described the massive debris cloud. “It resembled a (Mediterranean) pine more than any other tree. Like a very high tree the cloud went high and expanded in different branches…. sometimes white, sometimes dark and stained by the sustained sand and ashes.” In Pompeii, ash blocked the sun by 1 p.m. and the people tried to clear heavy ash from rooftops as it fell at a rate of about 6 inches (15 centimeters) an hour.