Pompeii is one of Mother Nature’s greatest attempts to preserve history. It is an ancient Roman city about 23 km from Naples that was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD along with Herculaneum, Stabia, Torre Annunziata and other communities. The city is about 8 km from Mount Vesuvius, covers approximately 67 hectares and was a major city in the region of Campania. The city was buried in about 6 metres of volcanic ash and pumice (volcanic rock) and is estimated to have had up to 11,500 inhabitants at the time of destruction.
The city was founded between the 6th and 7th Century BC by the Osci people and came under the domination of Rome in the 4th Century BC, giving the city extremely ancient roots. In 62 CE the city experienced an earthquake that damaged many buildings, which were not fully restored 17 years later went Mount Vesuvius erupted.
The city was lost for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader uncovering 150 years later. The ash, pumice and volcanic debris covered the city more than 6 metres deep and perfectly preserved it in a time capsule. Archaeologists have even been able to see the exact position a person was in at the time of death by pouring cement into the hollows formed in the volcanic ash to make body casts. The objects and the buildings in the city have been preserved for more than a millennium because of the lack of air and moisture when the city was underground. The work to uncover Pompeii is extremely important as it marked the start of the modern science of archeology.
The burial and destruction of the city have allowed us to see the social, economic, religious and political life of the ancient Roman city. Unfortunately, since the city has been uncovered it is endangered by weather, tourists, vandalism and vegetation. In July 2008, the Italian government declared a one-year state of emergency for the site and appointed a special commissioner to look after Pompeii.
This ancient Roman city is a remarkable display of the force of nature and of a city permanently frozen in time.