WARNING! Photo heavy post. But can you blame me? It’s POMPEII!!!! This has been a dream of mine to see this for years. It’s a zoo, there are throngs of people, but it just didn’t matter. Nothing was going to ruin my day at Pompeii. It’s huge, for starters. I think I saw maybe half of it. It’s a big labyrinth of streets and ruins so it’s hard to really tell how much I saw, but I saw enough of it to get a good feel for the place. And I got to see the frozen in time people of Pompeii. The images of them will stick with me for a very long time. They’re under plexi-glass so it was hard to get really good pictures, but you get the idea I’m sure. These were created by filling in the negative space of the decomposed people with liquid plaster, which is how you can see the facial expressions and body posture in such detail. The city was covered in a layer of hot ash, which is why the people were A. killed so quickly (and hopefully painlessly) and B. the cavities of where the people had their last moments are so well preserved. I’m not sure if that’s the right way to put that, but I can’t think of a better description!
The eruption happened in 79 AD and the city was buried until 1749 when it was discovered accidentally. There is so much to learn about Pompeii that for the first time I decided to do a guided tour. It was really interesting and I actually learned a lot that I didn’t know about Pompeii. The class system was very much alive and well in those days. The rich lived high on the hog. They bathed once a week, they had large homes and 2 way streets and lived on the sunny side of town, literally. The rich area had sun until 7:00, whereas the poor only had it until about 4:00. The poor only got to bathe once a month, and their streets were single track. The Pompeii people were a highly sophisticated society. They collected their own urine to use as cleaning products (ammonia.) They used other human waste as compost material. They were much less shy about bathroom habits actually, in some homes the toilet was in the same room as the kitchen! They had basins to collect rainwater, but in order to prevent getting malaria they used fish to clean the water and eat the bugs and mosquito’s. Then they would boil it (which is probably what really made the water safe to drink) but for that era that was inventive! There was a bustling shopping district and food stands, a red light district (oldest profession in the world!) and rampant slave use. Slaves were often criminals who were paying the price for their crimes, but too often they were doctors and lawyers and other higher ups that were educated and framed and/or wrongly accused. A slave could get out of their duties as well if they paid their master a large sum of money. Now where is a slave going to get a large sum? They’d probably have to steal it and look where that would get them… Once you became a slave you ceased to have a name. You became a number and were led around by a waist belt attached to a chain.
OK, enough talk already. Hopefully the photos tell the story.
Most of the people who died in the eruption were slaves because they were locked up and couldn’t escape the gas cloud. We know this one was a slave because of the waist belt.
This is our guide Raphael. He talked with his hands a lot.
The baths. The men got the cold showers, and the women got warm water. Apparently chivalry was alive back then.
The hole is part of what was once a food stall. They would have soup and bruchetta and sell it on the streets from stands like this all over Pompeii. The rather phallic symbol on the left is in fact, just that! Our guide told us that the men would rub it for luck, and the woman would sit on it to have good fertility! I’m not sure if he was pulling our leg or not, but it’s a funny story!
Mosaic welcome mat. This is the entrance to a home, and it’s actually meant as a warning, not a welcome.
The red light district. There were some naughty drawings in here so I thought I’d share a couple! I’ll have you know this was where the biggest line ups were to get inside… typical!
There were a few stray dogs within the walls. See the next photo for the explanation, and what you (if you lived in Italy) could do!
OK, I think the guide was definitely pulling our leg on this one. Look closely at this picture… what do you see? He said back in the day they used pictures in the street to direct you to where you needed to go. This one pointed to the brothel…
This one is the pregnant woman… they also have one of a dog, but my photo of it didn’t turn out very well.
Grooves in the road from the wheels of the chariots.
Beautifully preserved mosaic floor.
All roads lead to Rome apparently.