Monday, March 28, 2011

A Day In Pompeii

[Note: actually, the day recounted here occurred before the day in Capri; in order to preserve narrative flow, I have thus departed from the usual chronological purity of this blog].

Fortified by Stephen Tuck's lectures and much additional reading, we embarked upon our first day in Pompeii, 7 hours and 500 pix of a variety of subjects we had been looking forward to seeing. While everyone knows the basic story of Pompeii--thriving Etruscan/Samnite/Roman city of 20,000, buried and frozen in time by the August 24-26, 79 AD eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius--a few additional notes bear on the variety of Pompeii posts that will follow. Neighboring Herculaneum was actually discovered before Pompeii, earlier in the 18th century. The pyroclastic flows that had buried Herculaneum in 60 feet of solid rock meant that the only explorations undertaken in those times were through tunnel mining and not excavation, as at Pompeii, which was covered by cinder and ash. (Half of Vesuvius had blown up and much of it had fallen on Pompeii and neighboring towns and villas south and west of the mountain). "Exploration" in those days was very largely a matter of treasure-hunting, financed by aristocracy and royalty. Thus, most of what was brought up and out of Herculaneum and Pompeii until very nearly the 20th century is now in a variety of royal-collections-turned-public-museums. The Kings of Naples hoarded most of the art and other treasures, and thus most of what was taken from Herculaneum and Pompeii is now at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. Don't worry, we visited it too. Anyhow, that explains the relative starkness of what one sees in Pompeii, apart of from the occasional replicas placed in the ruins by modern curators and others.
In the public area at the northwest corner of the city, the
Temple of Apollo; prior to the '79 catastrophe, Pompeii was
rocked by a major earthquake in '62 that brought down
most of the largest structures; they were still re-building in

Remains of the Basilica, the meeting place, hall of justice,
et cetera

There are frescoes all around, not plentiful,
but worth seeking out

In one of the baths, cubby-holes in which to stow one's

In the same baths, a bronze massage table/bed

Lead piping

Us in Pompeii

In the House of the Faun, a replica piece of the Alexander
mosaic, depicting the Battle of Issus, wherein Alexander
defeated the Persian king Darius, and opened the way
through Persia to the east and India

One of Pompeii's numerous neighborhood bakeries; the
millstones on the left were driven by slaves or donkeys; the
ovens on the right

More frescoes

And more; the snake was considered a blessing upon any
house or business

Another fresco figure I liked; it was the only painting form
that has come down to us

At the House of the Tragic Poet, the very famous Cave
Canem mosaic; apparently a joke among middle and upper
class Romans, since the doors to their homes were open
for business from dawn to dusk every day

In the spare parts shed (among gazillions of

A particularly large atrium/peristyle garden in someone's
large house

After the Forum and the Baths, the Brothel is Pompeii's most
popular sight; here's Vicki on one of the beds

Frescoes above the (closed) Stabian Baths

Archaeology/preservation/restoration continues

Atrium in another large house; our house in Dallas had an
atrium, although it was not quite like this...

No comments: