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Fate of Pompeii after eruption of Vesuvius

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Ruins of Pompeii, seen from the tower
Ruins of Pompeii, seen from the tower

After the ancient city of Pompeii was destroyed and covered with a huge amount of pyroclastic material from Vesuvius in 79 CE, the reigning emperor Titus Flavius ​​immediately decided to support the surviving inhabitants.

According to Suetonius1, he allocated large sums of public money for this purpose. Cassius Dio2, in turn, reports that he personally visited the buried city twice.

Many people ask why Pompeii was not rebuilt in antiquity. Unfortunately, the answer is not entirely known; this may have been due to the potentially huge costs that the Roman state could not afford. Another hypothesis is the superstitious view of the Romans, who believed that the eruption of the volcano was a punishment of the gods and that nothing should be built in this place. It is possible that the practical Romans became convinced that this was not the safest place to re-establish a city.

What is certain, however, is that numerous people tried to get into the buried structures, either in order to rob or recover their belongings. Certainly, it often ended tragically, when the ceiling of the dug tunnel could not withstand it and collapsed on the heads of the ancient treasure hunters. Evidence for such attempts to get to the buried city is, for example, holes in city walls or inscriptions on the wall “house dug through”. In Meander’s house, the remains of two adults and a child were found, with a pickaxe and a hoe. Researchers suspect that they could be robbers.

It is also worth mentioning that some of the taller buildings in Pompeii that did not collapse were sticking out of the ashes after they were buried. This material could certainly be used as a building material.

Over time, Pompeii was forgotten for another 1,500 years, until smaller discoveries were made by accident.

  1. Suetonius, Titus, 8
  2. Cassius Dio, Roman history, LXVI.24
  • Beard Mary, Pompeje. Życie rzymskiego miasta, Poznań 2010

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