ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology»
  • Ancient History

A visit to the ruins of Pompeii

Updated on March 9, 2011

Have you heard of Pompeii?

Pompei, known as Pompeii in ancient times, is a popular tourist town in Italy today. Once upon a time, Pompeii was a flourishing Roman city. But one day, in August 79 AD, it suddenly got completely submerged by the lava and ash of the volcano Mt Vesuvius. Two thousand people, around 10% of the city’s population, died in the eruption.

Pompeii was discovered by chance, almost 1,600 years later after the disaster. Archaeologists were stunned to find a whole city under the 6-metre thick layer of volcanic ash, frozen in time, with all houses, buildings and streets intact.

A visit to these ruins takes you back to August 79 AD, when Pompeii was a commercial centre and a resort for the Roman nobility. The rich and the privileged lived in palatial houses, while ordinary people and slaves stayed in simple dwellings. Many houses still contain furniture, ornaments, gold and silverware, work tools, kitchenware, bronze and terracotta lamps, grain mills and grindstones. Beautiful frescoes and sculptures still survive in some of these homes. Everything speaks of the glory and prosperity of the city.

In the now famous The Last Days of Pompeii, British journalist and poet Edward Bulwer-Lytton describes the destruction of Pompeii and the life of its people. He particularly mentions one house that had a lovely mosaic of a dog at the entrance way. At just that moment the volcano erupts — “a vast vapor shooting from the summit of Vesuvius, in the form of a gigantic pine-tree; the trunk, blackness; the branches; fire! — a fire that shifted and wavered in its hues with every moment, now fiercely luminous, now a dull and dying red, that again blazed terrifically forth with intolerable glare”. The earth shook, and ash and stones fell from the blackened sky…

Lytton describes how some people took advantage of the panic and confusion and started looting houses. They became so involved in looting that they lost their chance to escape. However, there were many who “behaved nobly”, people who thought of their friends and, despite the risks involved, bravely went to their aid. Historians say the eruption of Mt Vesuvius lasted for two whole days, with several metres of ash and pumice settling over the city.

The Last Days of Pompeii poses a fundamental question: What is the most important thing in life, the most important thing for human beings? It states, “Life is short. We never know what will happen; everything is constantly changing.”

Those who survived the disaster were most likely those who ran out of the city immediately. Interestingly, the majority of those who died in the eruption were members of the wealthy class and their servants. Perhaps they were reluctant to leave their fine homes, or they spent too much time trying to gather and find a means to transport their possessions, thus losing the opportunity to escape. Some were discovered clasping sacks of gold or silver, or precious ornaments and jewelery. Or perhaps they thought that their sturdy homes and cellars would protect them from the eruption.

Unfortunately, the roofs collapsed and buried them, or the scorching heat of blasts caused by the eruption killed them.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      The last days of Pompeii made an impression on me back in what would be junior high school now.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)