Much of the knowledge many people have about the ancient city of Pompeii likely comes from pop culture and media references. Despite its immortalization in both, there's so much to know about this city that was tragically destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The site itself is one of the most well-known and visited archeological locations in the world, seeing upwards of 10,000 visitors on any given day. With it being so easy to reach from the surrounding cities of Rome, Naples, and Sorrento, many tourists find themselves among the ruins, learning more than they thought possible about the fated city.
It could be said that one leaves Pompeii wiser after exploring the landscape of a society that was practically doomed from the start. While Pompeii's history is something that will be learned during its tour, there's plenty to know before you go, or in general, if it's something that piques your interest.
The Exact Date Of The Eruption Is Still Undetermined
Unlike many dates in history, the exact date of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius is still entirely undetermined. While researchers have been able to date the remains of bodies left behind as well as the condition of the city, according to Dark Rome, an exact date has not been agreed upon.
Interestingly, there is an eyewitness account of the eruption by a man who went by the name of Pliny the Younger, a Roman writer, who started the entry on August 24th. However, experts tend to disagree on whether or not this was the date of the actual eruption since all the preserved evidence points to another date altogether. In reality, the date of the eruption was likely sometime between October and November.
Some Think Pompeiians Believed Vesuvius To Only Be A Mountain
This is yet another detail that's up for debate in regard to Pompeii and its history. There's the giant question of whether or not its inhabitants realized how dangerous their city was - and many believe that they had no idea.
If they had known, it begs the question of why they would settle such a large city at the base of an active volcano - one that's so dangerous that an evacuation plan is permanently in place for the surrounding cities today. There's no way to determine when the volcano will erupt next and it's often argued that the volcano went so many years between eruptions, that no one in Pompeii realized the danger of it happening in their lifetime.
A Fatal Combination Of Unusual Wind Direction And Extreme Heat
An interesting, but tragic, fact about the day Mount Vesuvius erupted is that the wind on that day happened to be blowing in a very unfortunate direction. Typically, the wind blows in the opposite direction most of the time. However, the day of the eruption, it went the other way, which was quite unusual for the area.
This is what caused the entire city, and most of its inhabitants, to be covered in layers upon layers of ash and soot. Additionally, since Pompeii sits at the very base of the volcano, those closest to it died due to its sheer heat and were then preserved as ash rained down on the city.
Bodies On Display Are Actually Casts Of The Real Things
It's quite a convincing site when you walk into Pompeii and witness bodies left in exactly the same way they were during the final moments of each person. Those who perished in Pompeii were so well-preserved and encased in ash that molds were able to be cast from their bodies.
This is what's on display in the city today, bringing with it an eerie and tragic reminder detailing the final seconds of the city's inhabitants. The idea was brought about by Italian architect Giuseppe Fiorelli back in 1863, who had noticed that as they disintegrated, ash and pumice were left behind. By injecting plaster into these natural shapes, the realistic history of Pompeii was able to be maintained.
Pompeii Was Originally Greek, Not Roman
While Pompeii is known as a Roman city, it actually had a history prior to Roman occupation. Researchers believe that the city belonged to the ancient Greeks before it was home to Romans, and the proof of this lies in the fragment of a Greek Doric Temple that was found in the city.
While, once again, experts are uncertain about the date during which the ancient Greeks occupied the city, they were able to date the temple back to the 6th century B.C.