The most famous volcanic destruction of a city is that of Vesuvius and the city of Pompeii in Ancient Rome. Almost everyone has heard of that day in 79 A.D. when the volcano erupted and Pompeii was buried beneath millions of tons of ash.
Yet, while everyone is familiar with the events of that fateful day, there are many incredible facts and insights that we can learn from Pompeii that aren't so widely known.
Whether you're a budding vulcanologist or just a trivia buff, these 15 facts about Pompeii will blow your mind. The further down the list you get, the weirder these become!
1. A Gust Of Wind
The major contributing factor to the destruction of Pompeii was the direction of the wind. Normally, it would have been blowing elsewhere and the city would have been saved.
2. It Was Quick
The Lava, which was over 700 centigrade, was moving at over 70 miles per hour when it consumed the city. Fleeing was simply not an option.
3. Down Deep
The city was covered with ash for 24 hours, but then for the next two days, it was covered in molten rock and pumice stone. It was buried nearly 20 feet deep.
4. Timing Is Everything
The eruption of 79 A.D. is said to have begun on the morning of August 24. That's the morning after the city had celebrated Vulcanalia - the festival of the Roman God of Fire.
5. Irregular Outbursts
One of the reasons nobody in Pompeii feared an eruption from Vesuvius is that it only has a major eruption every 2,000 years or so. The last one before 79 A.D. had been in 1900 B.C.
6. Pompeii Is Where The World "Volcano" Came From
Before Vesuvius erupted, the Romans had no word for "volcano." Once it had erupted, they needed one fast, and volcano was coined from the name of the Roman God of Fire, Vulcan.
7. Great Teeth
The citizens of Pompeii were found to have amazing teeth when their bodies were excavated. This is attributed to the high natural levels of fluoride in local springs.
8. Heat More Than Ash
Popular belief has it that everyone at Pompeii drowned in volcanic ash. The truth is much uglier. That ash would have been incredibly hot, and most people would have been roasted to death.
9. Graffiti Was Rife
The remains of Pompeii are notable for their huge collection of early Roman graffiti - some of which is extraordinarily vulgar and riddled with obscenities. Who would have thought?
10. Not That Serious
For the citizens of Pompeii, the eruption of Vesuvius was serious, but the eruption in 79 A.D. doesn't even rank in the Top 5 volcanic eruptions in history. Approximately 3,000 people died, which is a small number compared to the near 30,000 that died when Mount Pelee erupted in Martinique.
11. Found And Lost
Pompeii was actually rediscovered in 1599 by church workers. It was then ordered to be reburied by the architect conducting the work because he disapproved of the explicit nature of the art found in the ruins. It would be another 150 years before Pompeii was excavated.
12. It Was A Resort Town
Holiday resorts aren't as new as you might believe. In fact, Pompeii was a resort town for wealthy Romans to escape the hot Roman summers in.
13. Preserved By Destruction
The reason that you can see so much of Pompeii in the modern era is because the ash that smothered the city to its death also acted as a fabulous preservation agent.
14. There's Only One Firsthand Account
While the destruction of Pompeii is widely recorded in books of the era, only Pliny the Younger recorded a first-hand observation of the destruction.
15. Vesuvius Is Still Active
Mount Vesuvius remains the only active volcano in Europe. It has erupted in the last century. If it were to undergo a major eruption, such as the one that finished Pompeii, nearly 3 million lives would be at risk in modern Italy.
So there you have it, weren't some of those facts incredible? We might move there to save money on our dentist bills, though.
Be sure to SHARE this article with family and friends!