Pompeii is the famous home to a ruined city, dug from the ashes rained on it by volcano Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago. Thriving at the time of the eruption, the city was caught in action, buried beneath 20 feet of ash, pumice and lava, and forever captured in a fossil-like state.
It was nearly 1,700 years before the city was rediscovered – by workmen building the foundation of a summer palace for the King of Naples, Charles of Bourbon.
The ongoing excavation continues to this day, and has revealed ruins of the city as well as ghostlike casts of the people who lived and died there.
The excavation gives extraordinary insight into Roman life in the 1st century, the height of the Roman Empire, with buildings, frescoes, signage and even people caught as they were, seemingly frozen in time.
Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pompeii is also a treasure for modern historians and archeologists. We can see clearly that 1st-century city planners built temples and government buildings around a central forum.
The streets of Pompeii are paved with large polygonal blocks of stone, raised stepping stones at intervals and high curbs – the streets were regularly flooded to wash dust and debris away.
The streets were busy, lined with shops, houses, bars and brothels, many highly decorated with mosaics and frescoes, and a protective wall with fortified gates surrounded the city.
Pompeii’s aqueduct is a marvel of engineering, with public water divided into three channels: One for the public fountains, one for the public baths and the third for the most affluent citizens. Blocks in the channels diverted the flow as needed, and in event of drought, the rich would lose their water supply first, then the baths, in an effort to keep water flowing to the public fountains.