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The Wrath of Vesuvius

sunny 24 °C

It is 12.30pm on Friday August 24th. AD79 - precisely one thousand nine hundred and thirty six years and eleven weeks ago. The folks living in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and the other towns under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius on the west coast of Italy, are simply going about their daily routine. Ordinary folk are having lunch at this restaurant where the food is kept hot with wood fires under these actual pots…
...while the aristocracy are dining in the shady courtyards of their homes…
Local senators are meeting in the town hall to discuss politics. They are admiring these newly painted murals that still adorn the walls…
Other townsfolk are gathered in the square around this statue…
Some women are preparing to bathe in the hot baths and are walking on these actual mosaic tiles as they disrobe…
Groups of children are playing in these actual streets – stepping on exactly the same paving stones that we are treading today…
Storekeepers and their workers are making and selling all manner of metal, ceramic and everyday objects while customers choose products from these adverts painted on the shop wall…
Now it is 1pm on that fateful day nearly two thousand years ago and an enormous mushroom cloud bursts from the volcano into the sky above the town. Thousands flee as hot ash begins to rain down and then a pyroclastic flow of superheated gas, travelling faster than a bullet, vaporises everything combustible while leaving perfectly preserved scorched timber in its wake…
There is pandemonium in the streets. Many rush to the boats and head out to sea. Those neither able nor willing to run, shelter in the boathouses that line the beach. But no one escapes the asphyxiating gasses that fill the air, nor can they escape the sixty feet of volcanic ash and magma that engulfs everything in its path…
For nearly two millenia the victims have lain here undisturbed by wars, tempests and further eruptions. Stripped of flesh and blood by the intense heat, but still crying out in agony as their beautiful town is swallowed by the volcano, these residents of Herculaneum will forever be a symbol of human fragility in the face of raw nature…

Posted by Hawkson 00:22 Archived in Italy

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I hate to think of them as still in pain. This is a good reminder of how vulnerable we are.

by The Vickerage

We have all heard a version of the story but your historical pictures and timeline brings it all to life again.

by Keith and Helen

Can't image how horrific that would be. Hopefully they died quickly. So vivid today. It pays to enjoy each day of our lives.

by Sue Fitzwilson

I like your comment about treading on the very stones; feeling the past rather than just sight-seeing. Those skeletons probably helped on this occasion.

by R and B

Very evocative. Love the mosaics. But the tale of near instant destruction makes me cast a wary eye on Mount Baker.

by Tom

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