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Pompeii's Citizens Frozen in Time-How would you be found?

Updated on April 1, 2012
Pompeii | Source

In A.D. 79 Mt. Vesuvius in Italy erupted. The initial blast sent a giant cloud of volcanic debris and hot gasses into the atmosphere. This debris began to slowly rain down on the village of Pompeii. It became hard to breathe. Then came the pryoclastic surge! Which was basically a massive devastating wave of gas and rock ejected from the volcano at over 100 miles per hour. 19 hours after the initial eruption the Roman town of Pompeii was buried under several feet of ash. Most residents had time to escape, however many chose to stay behind.


The residents that chose to stay behind perished from breathing the ash filled air and heated, toxic gases that followed the initial blast. When archeologists began excavating Pompeii centuries later, they made an interesting discovery. Many well preserved depressions in the hardened lava of victims in the positions they were in when they drew their last breath of the thick, acrid, poisonous air. Excavating the ashen remains and filling the voids with plaster produced detailed representations of the faces and body positions of the dead.

This revealed some very insightful glimpses into the city's and people's last moments on earth. It also paints a grim picture of the age old struggle of man against nature and the destructive power that can be produced by the earth that sustains us. In the constant struggle of Mankind against the unbridled force of nature, Mankind usually loses.


A man in his last moments tries to care for a woman. It appeared to me he was possibly trying to use part of his clothing to filter the air. Maybe he was weeping over the lifeless body? Or maybe they were sharing one last loving embrace?


Man who choked on the ash and gas. To me he had a horrified look on his face like he died an extremely painful death. Maybe he screamed out in anguish with his dying breath.


This man died while trying to scale the stairs. Crawling towards other victims of the eruption. His family? Friends? Co-workers?


This was a slave or prisoner. He was shackled around his ankles. Forgotten by his master? Or maybe a criminal abandoned by the jailer who had already hastily departed the city.


Body of a child. It looked like he had went to take a nap and never woken up.


Two women. Mother and daughter? Sisters?


A dog you can even see the detail of his collar. Writhing in agony during his final moments? Or maybe enjoying one last roll in the grass?


Man seated trying to cover his face with a cloak. Did he just stop to take rest while trying to escape the city? Or maybe just had a stark realization that he was going to die and sat down to embrace death quietly?


Woman who died of suffocation. Trying to shield her face from flying debris or maybe crying at the acceptance it was too late to escape.


32 skeletons including several children from the nearby town of Heculaneum found in a group. Fleeing the destruction and waiting at the shore of the sea. Missed the last boat? Waiting for a returning craft that promised a return trip?


Imagine a modern day catastrophe. How would future generations find us? Frozen in time at a computer keyboard? Sitting on bridge in a car trying to escape devastation? Embraced with our loved ones? At work trying to finish that one last report? Trying to make one last cell phone call to our family? Kneeled in prayer at church? Playing a game of catch with your son or daughter? How would you most likely be found? How would you want to be found? The citizens of Pompeii didn't have time to ponder this question. As a matter of fact they all perished from something that was really totally incomprehensible to them. The word for volcano did not exist in their language. Isn't it really vain to think we are so advanced that we are all knowing? Is it really a far stretch to think there are things that exists that are incomprehensible to us. We are after all members of the same human race, in the same fragile bodies. These people became one with the earth in less than 19 hours. What would you do if you had 19 hours left and the clock was already ticking? Enjoy life.


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