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Mt vesuvius and its 79 ad eruption

Pompeii was over four times the size of Herculaneum.

  1. Morning Back to top Pompeii and Herculaneum were ordinary cities.
  2. Violent earthquakes in AD 62 or 63 were caused as the gases which had built up within the cone tried to force their way out.
  3. He was now so close to the mountain that the cinders, which grew thicker and hotter the nearer he approached, fell into the ships, together with pumice stones, and black pieces of burning rock. Modern volcanologists use the term to describe large-volume, violent eruptions that produce quickly-expanding clouds of rock, ash and gases which rise many miles into the atmosphere.

Population Pompeii was the larger of the two cities with approximately three times the number of residents than Herculaneum. Based on a fragment of a citizen list found in Herculaneum, these are the most accurate figures we have about the wealth and status of those who lived there.

Morning Back to top Pompeii and Herculaneum were ordinary cities.

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They were much like many of the other urban centres found throughout Italy and the wider Roman Empire. Pompeii and Herculaneum were quite different from each other. Pompeii was much larger than Herculaneum. Estimating population numbers is very difficult but it is likely that Pompeii had around 12,000—15,000 people, while Herculaneum's inhabitants numbered around 4,000—5,000. The inhabitants of both enjoyed all the amenities of the cities, from baths and theatres to temples and markets, and lived in a wide variety of homes, from luxurious houses to tenement blocks, small flats above shops and live-in workshops.

Both cities offer a picture of a changing society — cities which had existed for centuries before the eruption of AD 79, with many of the private houses and public buildings being two or even three hundred years old.

  • Although it had been active in the 8th century BC it had been dormant ever since, leaving the people of the cities with a false sense of security;
  • It was the following morning when another, more powerful eruption killed everyone in an instant;
  • It has over 40 charms made from lead, glass, bronze and carnelian, rock crystal from the Alps, amber from the Baltic and faience from Egypt;
  • Mount Vesuvius For Romans living around the bay of Naples in southern Italy, Vesuvius was considered as just a fertile mountain;
  • For the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum the day of the eruption would have started as any other.

Pompeii was the larger city and more of a commercial hub, with at least 150 bars and taverns, compared with just over a dozen in the smaller seaside city of Herculaneum. This probably means the city originated as an amalgamation of five towns or groups, which some scholars say can be traced in the archaeological record.

Herculaneum The name Herculaneum is clearly based on the demi-god Hercules, who founded the city, according to legend. Street fresco, fresco of food Pompeii, Herculaneum The streets of Pompeii and Herculaneum were filled with shops, bars and workshops, many built into the fronts of even the finest houses.

Shops and bars typically had marble counters fitted with terracotta jars for storing food and drink. Brightly painted signs of gods and lucky symbols advertised the businesses and protected their interiors. People could buy a variety of food: For the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum the day of the eruption would have started as any other.

The streets of the cities would have been bustling with ordinary people, just like this man. We cannot be sure whether he was still alive when this portrait was displayed in an atrium in Pompeii, but we do know that it would have been important for it to have been lifelike.

Mount Vesuvius For Romans living around the bay of Naples in southern Italy, Vesuvius was considered as just a fertile mountain.

  • Pompeii and Herculaneum were quite different from each other;
  • He was now so close to the mountain that the cinders, which grew thicker and hotter the nearer he approached, fell into the ships, together with pumice stones, and black pieces of burning rock;
  • We cannot be sure whether he was still alive when this portrait was displayed in an atrium in Pompeii, but we do know that it would have been important for it to have been lifelike;
  • The 79 AD eruption is one of the most well-known ancient eruptions in the world, and may have killed more than 16,000 people;
  • Etna , Stromboli Mount Vesuvius;
  • Its general appearance can be best expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed.

Although it had been active in the 8th century BC it had been dormant ever since, leaving the people of the cities with a false sense of security. Violent earthquakes in AD 62 or 63 were caused as the gases which had built up within the cone tried to force their way out.

In AD 79 the pressure had built up again, and the thick layer of lava, hardened to form a plug in the crater, was not enough to contain the gases.

Mount Vesuvius - Italy

For several days there had been earth tremors affecting the surrounding area. He wrote two letters in which he narrated the events of the day and their effect. Extracts of these will appear in the timeline below as the eruption unfolds.

Check back at 11. Midday Back to top After several small explosions Vesuvius erupts, sending a tall mushroom cloud of superheated rock and gas over 20km into the sky.

The cloud blows southwards, plunging everything into total darkness. About one in the afternoon… a cloud was ascending, the appearance which I cannot give you a more exact description of than by likening it to that of a pine tree, for it shot up to a great height in the form of a very tall trunk, which spread itself out at the top into a sort of branches; occasioned, I imagine, either by a sudden gust of air that impelled it, the force of which decreased as it advanced upwards, or the cloud itself being pressed back again by its own weight, expanded in the manner I have mentioned; it appeared sometimes bright and sometimes dark and spotted, according as it was either more or less impregnated with earth and cinders.

Pliny the Younger describes the Vesuvius eruption The mountain emits noxious gases and unearthly noises.

Eruption of Mount Vesuvius begins

Violent tremors cause buildings to collapse. People flee to the beach, hoping for rescue from the sea but floating banks of pumice prevent ships from reaching or leaving the shore.

Lucky jewellery Pompeii, outside Porta Nola Some people wore jewellery featuring good luck symbols, perhaps to invoke the protection of the gods as the city around them was destroyed.

Mount Vesuvius: Plate Tectonic Setting

These items were all found with a young woman who died among tombs to the east of Pompeii. Nearly all the items she carried were linked to good luck including these rings with symbols such as the goddess Fortuna and snake heads. She clearly wanted the protection of the gods, but they proved to be of little help.

Charm bracelet Herculaneum, ancient shoreline Others took objects that held sentimental value. This bracelet was found alongside the skeleton of a child. It has over 40 charms made from lead, glass, bronze and carnelian, rock crystal from the Alps, amber from the Baltic and faience from Egypt. Fused mass of coins, once contained in a wicker basket Herculaneum, ancient shoreline As the eruption engulfed the cities, many of the people fleeing for their lives paused to grab objects of value such as jewellery and coins.

Perhaps they hoped to provide a safeguard against difficult times ahead. He ordered the galleys to be put to sea… Hastening then to the place from whence others fled with the utmost terror, he steered his course direct to the point of danger, and with so much calmness and presence of mind as to be able to make and dictate his observations upon the motion and all the phenomena of that dreadful scene. He was now so close to the mountain that the cinders, which grew thicker and hotter the nearer he approached, fell into the ships, together with pumice stones, and black pieces of burning rock: Pliny the Younger describes how his uncle, Pliny the Elder, went to the aid of those at the foot of Mount Vesuvius They consulted together whether it would be most prudent to trust to the houses, which now rocked from side to side with frequent and violent concussions as though shaken from their very foundations; or fly to the open fields, where the calcined stones and cinders, though light indeed, yet fell in large showers, and threatened destruction.

In this choice of dangers they resolved for the fields: They went out then, having pillows tied upon their heads with napkins; and this was their whole defence against the storm of stones that fell round them. Pliny the Elder then disembarks mt vesuvius and its 79 ad eruption starts to assist on land Meanwhile broad flames shone out in several places from Mount Vesuvius, which the darkness of the night contributed to render still brighter and clearer.

The eruption story

Being at a convenient distance from the houses, we stood still, in the midst of a most dangerous and dreadful scene. The chariots, which we had ordered to be drawn out, were so agitated backwards and forwards, though upon the most level ground, that we could not keep them steady, even by supporting them with large stones. Pliny the Younger The sea seemed to roll back upon itself, and to be driven from its banks by the convulsive motion of the earth; it is certain at least the shore was considerably enlarged, and several sea animals were left upon it.

On the other side, a black and dreadful cloud, broken with rapid, zigzag flashes, revealed behind it variously shaped masses of flame: