In about 700 B.C., the city of Pompeii was established. It eventually grew to a population of about 20,000 residents at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, a volcano that had not seen activity in 3,000 years. Ironically enough, the residents of Pompeii had all sorts of myths about angry gods and goddesses that would rain down terror on people, but not of them included volcanoes or lava being the demise of anyone. In fact, they used Mount Vesuvius to graze their animals and also to grow grapes for the production of wine.
On August 24, 79, Mount Vesuvius suddenly blew. It was apparently completely unexpected and caught the people totally off guard. This was apparent by the many bodies that were found. Many were curled into a defensive position, covering children, and even holding a flask of wine. The ash from the volcano blanketed them in extreme heat and killed them all.
The city itself was 163 acres and was surrounded by a protective wall. Their roads were made of large, flat stones with gutters running along side them to give any runoff a place to go. There were also fountains alongside the road for people to get hydrated and give their animals a drink. Their homes were built from stone and brick and had an open area in the middle with a pool for the family's water and a place for air to circulate into the residence. They also had dining rooms for eating and relaxing. Their benches were stationary, but they had tables that could move so they could put it up to the benches to eat, but move it away to sit and relax.
When the city of Pompeii was first discovered by archaeologists, they realized that the locals and diggers had been using the site as their personal treasure box. The ash was easy to dig through, so anyone willing to do so could find all sorts of trinkets, jewelry, and precious metals such as gold. In the process, many stones and statues were broken up to make removal easier. Nonetheless, there was still plenty for scientists to find. In fact, many of the bodies that were found were doing their normal everyday stuff; walking down the street with a child, drinking from the fountain, and sitting at home.
Pompeii is one of the most amazing discoveries because the ash from Mount Vesuvius preserved it so well. Less the plundering over the years, everything was preserved almost perfectly. Of all the ways for an ancient civilization to go, this has to be about the best.
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