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Pompeii, Destruction of

Pompeii was a city of ancient Rome, which is located in modern-day Naples. In 79 AD (where it is listed on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History), Pompeii and several other cities and villas were destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted. Affected areas were buried under very thick pumice and ashes.

Background of the City of Pompeii

According to researchers, Pompeii was established by the Oscans in the 7th or 6th BC. Eventually, the city was conquered by Rome, and it became a colony of the Romans in 80 BC. About 160 years after becoming a Roman colony, Pompeii was destroyed. At this time, the city had about 11,000 residents including a gymnasium, port and water system in operation.

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‘The Last Day of Pompeii. Painting by Karl Brullov, 1830–1833.’

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius caused the total destruction of the city. This has led to the death of all its inhabitants including the loss of properties that were buried in ash. Pliny the Younger, a witness of the volcano’s eruption, wrote a letter that documented the events during that fateful day. He also wrote in the letter a narration of how Pliny the Elder, his uncle who was the Roman fleet’s admiral, was killed after attempting to rescue affected citizens.

The location greatly impacted by Mount Vesuvius’ eruption was lost for at least 1500 years. However, it was rediscovered in 1599, and there was an even broader rediscovery about 150 years after by Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre, a Spanish engineer. When the site was discovered, there were several objects found throughout the place. It was also observed that these remnants appeared to be well-preserved due to lack of moisture and air.

Destruction of Pompeii

Pompeii was a prosperous town-city found near Mount Vesuvius. In fact, it had a thriving economy because of its agriculture. However, with the eruption of this volcano, several communities were devastated including Pompeii and Herculaneum.

According to studies, those who died from the volcanic eruptions suffered from intense heat and suffocation due to ash. Researchers have discovered that these people were exposed to as much as 250 degrees Celsius of heat, and the hot surges were at about 10 kilometers distance away from the event. This severe heat was enough to bring about death in spite of the fact that the people remained inside their houses.

After the eruption, several buildings including people and other properties at Pompeii were buried in tephra by about 12 different layers of this material. Historians have found evidence that the city of Pompeii was buried completely in November, contrary to what Pliny stated in his letter that the eruption occurred in August.

Archaeologists have discovered that the people who were buried in ash were wearing heavier and thicker clothing, which meant it was impossible for the eruptions to have taken place in August. Moreover, there were sealed wine fermenting jars, as well as coins that feature the 15th imperatorial acclamations of the emperor’s titles. Hence, it was impossible for these coins to have been minted prior to the middle of September. Thus, the accounts by Pliny that the volcanic eruption was in August may be proven to be inaccurate based on research and studies by scientists.

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