”And the walls kept tumbling down
In the city that we love
Grey clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above”
Bastille (Song: Pompeii)
24 August 79AD, a day that will be remembered for the worst. A day where Mount Vesuvius in Italy’s south erupted, leaving towns buried deep in volcanic ash and soot. A day where 16,000 people lost their lives.
Today, the Roman city of Pompeii is still being excavated, preserved in its original state from the unfortunate events that took place that day; a piece of history frozen in time.
I developed a strong fascination with this town for some reason. After hearing Bastille’s song entitled Pompeii, I was eager to learn the story behind the lyrics. I knew Pompeii was a town I had to visit in Italy.
Stepping into Pompeii, I encountered a town of ruins strangely well intact for an ancient town buried in ash. I was surprised about the enormity of Pompeii – not all the sites have even been excavated yet!
Exploring the streets and inside the remaining structures, I was able to visualise life back in the Roman days. The state of the interior of most buildings were in good condition, particularly those of the rich, which gave an insight into the lives of those that occupied Pompeii before the devastating volcanic eruption. The engineering and architectural abilities of the Romans in those days is just astonishing as shown through all the intricacies and artistic designs. How it withheld all the ash and still manged to be in good condition 2000 years later baffles me. When explorers in 1748 rediscovered Pompeii, they believed it was the volcanic ash that acted as a preservative to keep it intact today.
Seeing the bodies of families and the children curled up, fists clenched from the volcanic heat, plastered in time was heartbreaking. God only knows what they would have endured in their last hours of life, buried alive by ash and molten material.
For me, the most impressive was the thermal bath houses and the Alexander floor mosaic. The mosaic is an absolutely incredible and intricate piece of artwork well preserved.
Pompeii has suffered a great deal and as time goes on, more will be revealed about its history as more sites are excavated. It’s a truly exquisite piece of history frozen in time. May the life of Pompeii live on for many years to come.