Naples, Italy. Out tour today took
us to the ruins of Pompeii. Pompeii was established by the 6th
century BC. It was fought over and captured by several different
peoples. Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD, depositing volcanic ash
20-40 feet high over the area including Pompeii. Pompeii was
forgotten until the 18th century when the realization that a city
may be here, that excavation started. Excavations during the 19th
century were intended to locate materials to transfer to museums.
Excavations in the 20th century changed their purpose to
safeguarding the integrity of the places being uncovered. Beneath
the ash, human and animal bodies, and trees and wood decomposed and
left cavities. In 1860 another phase began where plaster casts were
made by pouring plaster into the cavities in the ash. This practice
was greatly improved in the early 20th century, so there now are
plaster casts of over 1,100 human bodies. We saw reproductions of
three of those human plaster casts. One was of a kneeling man,
holding a cloth over his nose.
Plaster casts showed that Pompeii had unleavened, round, bread. We
saw a bakery where wheat was poured into a hollow, large, stone. A
board was put into a cavity in the stone and a donkey or two men
pushed or pulled the board, thus rotating the stone. The flour was
ground and came out at the bottom of the stone.
Pompeii had 18,000 residents. Those who were well off had large
houses and 10-12 slaves. We saw one such house where the roof over a
large room was slanted downward toward the center of the room. At
the center, there was a hole in the roof so rainwater could be
collected in the room.
Pompeii had 25 brothels. One that we saw had a phallic symbol in
stone, on the outside of the building. Phallic symbols were found
throughout Pompeii because they were a wish for fertility, good
luck, and prosperity.
We saw a fast-food restaurant that had a marble counter top with
several round ceramic pots in holes in the marble. Foods were put
into those pots and customers could choose the food for their meals.
We saw a building for Roman baths. This is very common in ancient
One of the buildings had holes in a wall, exposing terracotta pipes
in the wall. They had some indoor plumbing of sorts.
The streets were lower than the sidewalks, and contained waste
flowing to the sea. At intersections there were walking stones in
the street, for crossing the street. The stones were about six to
twelve inches high and two feet across. The dimensions of the stones
were fairly consistent so the chariots and carts could roll over the
stones. If there was one stone in a narrow street, that meant that
was a one-way street. Wider streets with two or three stones were
two-way streets. Often the street surface between the stones and for
some distance after the stones had ruts from so many wheels going
over the same part of the street.
The streets and some of the walkways in houses had marble pieces in
between the stones, so their light color would easily light from an
Photo 802 shows marble pieces in between the stones in a street.
Photo 822 shows how stones were held in place only by angles cut in
the stone. Notice the keystone, the symbol of Pennsylvania.
Photo 846 shows a fast-food restaurant with a marble counter top
Photo 847 is a mosaic in the floor of an entry into a house. It
probably indicates "beware of dog".
Photo 853 shows stones in the street, for pedestrians crossing the
Photo 880 shows the stone for making flour.