Known today for the heart wrenching scenes of devastation and remains, the city of Pompeii in Italy is quite famous and is visited by thousands of tourists each day. Located near the bay of Naples the ancient village of Pompeii sits at the foot of the volcano Mount Vesuvius, which erupted in 79 AD. When the volcano erupted it emitted a powerful pyroclastic flow which buried the city under a thick layer of ash, preserving the bodies of the two thousand people that died as well as the layout of the city. Pompeii was abandoned after the eruption until 300 years ago when the site was discovered and excavated, revealing the preservation of the city layout which allows historians and enthusiasts alike to learn more about Roman life. The buildings can give us an insight into the lives of a Roman at this time in the first century AD, as we can see the religious temples that the people worshipped in, the markets they shopped at and even the private roman villas and modest homes where they lived. The lack of warning that the volcano gave before it erupted meant that life in Pompeii went on as normal the day of the tragedy which means that we literally have a real life snap shot of Roman life available to us to study and learn from.
I myself have been to Pompeii and it is surprising how well preserved it actually is, so much so that it seems like a ghost town when walking down the cobbled streets. If you ever visit Pompeii you can explore the homes of those that lived there, the town centre and the bathhouses, all of which have been excavated and look almost as if they were newly built and not thousands of years old. Although many people lost their lives in the eruption, it is estimated that there were around 20,000 people living there at the time, meaning many did actually manage to escape. There are many films and documentaries which capture the beauty of the city, as well as the panic and desperation of many of the people in their last moments of escape. Bodies were found in groups huddled together in basements and cellars, trying to escape the fury of the volcano that many believed to be punishment from the Roman Gods. This faith and religious belief that the gods would save them could be a reason that many stayed behind.