Pompeii is vast! To date approximately 50 hectares have been excavated and a further 14 hectares is still to be discovered.
Historically the first signs of the buried city came to light at the end of the 16th century but the city remained hidden until the mid-18th century when excavations were started under the king of Naples and they have continued excavating and renovating ever since.
At the time of excavation houses still contained furniture, ornaments, gold and silverware, work tools, kitchenware, bronze and terracotta lamps. Most of these artifacts were moved to the archaeological museum in Naples. Unlike Herculaneum which was flooded by mud, Pompeii was buried in ash and cinders so they were also able to recover buried 'organic' objects. They achieved this by pouring plaster into the imprints left after their decomposition. Using this method they have been able to recover many things which otherwise would have been destroyed, including the final resting positions of humans.
Inside the walled city, the sheer scale just hit us. Yet again we were left speechless as we walked along the streets, popping in and out of modest dwellings to large and magnificent villas. Many rooms were decorated with beautiful frescoes and tiled floor mosaics with the occasional marble artifact on display.
Giant stepping stones lay across wide roads used as a pedestrian crossing to ensure that there was no contact with the effluent running down the street. Several roads were indented with the signs of carts - it must have been a thriving city in its day.
imagine the clatter of wooden carts coming towards you!
We couldn't believe that there were 25 brothels in Pompeii, virtually on every street corner. One in particular (the wolf's den) was fascinating and contained actual stone beds and erotic wall paintings depicting different sexual positions for intercourse - an advertising board for the various specialties that the brothel could offer in exchange for a bottle or two of wine and bread, depending on the chosen 'service'.
sex in the city... unashamed!
Pompeii boasts the oldest surviving amphitheatre in the roman world where gladiators fought wild beasts. It's in excellent condition with substantial remains of tiered seating as well as the upper gallery. Nowadays, it's used by the occasional artist who can appreciate the natural acoustic sounds of such an amphitheatre. Pink Floyd, recorded live with no audience at Pompeii in 1971 and more recently Sir Elton John performed here.
Despite the early start unfortunately we still didn't get around to seeing everything because we ran out of steam by mid-afternoon - the heat coming from the stone was so intense.
Pompeii has provided us with another fascinating insight into the everyday life of a roman living in a city. We've thoroughly enjoyed visiting Hurculaneum and Pompeii and being able to compare today's lifestyles with the Romans. All things considered, today's lifestyle is so very similar. ;-).
The site is fantastic and another highlight on this year's trip. A short video montage is to follow shortly.
rows of amphora containers and a plaster cast of a victim