Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Fact Free History of Pompeii + Modern Day Tour

Pompeii from outside

As a noted historian, I was recently asked to give a guest lecture at an Ivy League school which, for reasons of confidentiality, will remain nameless, about the history of Pompeii. Caring dearly about my readers, and even more so reducing my work load, here is a transcript of my talk at Harvard University:
remnants of Pompeii- thought to be a bakery
remnants of Pompeii- thought to be a bakery
"Standard sunny summer Southern Italian day in the year 79 AD, and you're walking around drinking from an aqueduct which brings you water via a lead pipe, when, with all that toxicity affecting your brain, it suddenly dons on you, that, in fact, Italy has not yet been invented!
ruins of Pompeii
ruins of Pompeii

Tragically, before you can share your epiphany with anyone Mount Vesuvius erupts and buries you under tons of scalding volcanic ash, which, frankly, serves you right."

(murmur from the crowd as I adjust my papers and glasses which have fallen down the bridge of my nose)

"So 25 meters (80 feet) of volcanic ash buries Pompeii, kills you, your family, and everyone you know. Of course The Huffington Post which doesn't believe in personal responsibility will tell you that Ash is the victim as he was birthed to a volatile and fiery family.
But now, Ash Vesuvius has an attack of conscience over his mass murder (HuffPo: "No Ash! Volcanic society made you this way!)  and decides to to physically protect what little remains of Pompeii.
Ash wraps protective arms around the city preserving what he didn't destroy by keeping the ruins free from air and moisture, which turned out to be a pretty stupid move, a guilty killer preserving the evidence of his crime, because a millenia and a half later, it was pretty easy for detectives (archaeologists) to know whom exactly was responsible for the destruction of the ancient Roman city.
Today Ash has largely been cleared, and as punishment, ends up in toothpaste at the dentist's office, hence the origin of the aphorism, "ashes to ashes."
Pompeii courtyard- statues added and worn down for effect by the Italian board of tourism
Pompeii courtyard- statues added and worn down for effect by the Italian board of tourism

So, despite its sordid history, Pompeii is still a great place to tour, and that honestly, while not a fan of Ash's original actions, I was a huge fan of his caring and preserving heart. Enjoy the below videos and photos below of remnants of the ancient city.

original frescos of Pompeii still preserved today! 

One of the genius archaeologists noted that some of the blocks of ash excavated seemed hollow, both by sound and weight, so he decided to test his hypothesis by injected them with liquid plaster, and thus discovered shapes of bodies which, though had long ago disintegrated, the ash had already hardened around the shapes of their bodies.
Video: the exact position where a poor Pompeiin perished, trying to protect himself from the molten ash

boobs in Pompeii
boobs! Right? guys are expert spotters!
Pompeii stadium seating- original amphi-theater
Pompeii stadium seating- original amphi-theater
Another incredible place to visit was a Pompeii brothel, which had a stone erection carved into the wall to denote the establishment. 
look in the center above the small window and see the marker of a Pompeii brothel
inside a Pompeii brothel
no language barrier: just point to your desired sexual position
Inside the brothel you'll find a stone bed, upon which a very thin mattress was placed. This was designed to insure the customer (usually named John) cleared out quickly to let new ones in. If you didn't speak the language, no problem, just point to artwork on the wall for your preferred sexual position.
Video: inside a Pompeii brothel- pretty cool, though the service was lacking

reproduction of a million piece fresco found in Pompeii's wealthiest home.
Original in Naple's museum
the central square of Pompeii- with the criminal Vesuvius in the background
the central square of Pompeii- with the criminal Vesuvius in the background
original decorations still on the walls- was very cool!
On the whole I would say that if you're around Southern Italy/ near the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii is a must see. Oh, and as described above, no need to worry about the language barrier.
an ancient drinking fountain

1 comment:

  1. Ingenious built City, ruins still look men made even if the Volcano added its natural effects, great flourishment of Roman's civilization.


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