Images of Italy (Pictures and History)

The Forgotten City of Pompeii; A First Look   

Welcome to Pompeii.  This page and the 6 that follow will give you an idea of what to expect when you visit the ancient city. Get the history and introduction on this page, then continue through the rest to get an idea of what life was like in 79 A.D. 

The title A First Look was given because we were able to see only half of the ruins during our 4 hour visit.  So, if you are planning a trip to Pompeii yourself, be advised that you could easily spend a full day exploring the city.  The cost??  ...about 8 Euro lire ($12 US) per adult.


The Main square in Pompeii With Mt Vesuvius - 15k

The Forum, with Mt Vesuvius in the background  

We made our trip to the ruins in March of 1999.  It was a cool, overcast spring day...  Ideal for snapping pictures!   The cool, diffused light allowed for shadow-less images.

So, take a look around. Read the text below.  Check out the pictures.  Then when you are ready Start the Tour of Pompeii with the links at the bottom of the page to begin your tour.  



A Brief (extremely brief!!) History of Pompeii

Pompeii was first occupied in the 8th century BC.  The Etruscans soon dominated the region and Pompeii was no exception.  The Etruscan occupation lasted throughout the 5th and 6th centuries BC.  After the Etruscans came the Saminites.  The Saminites turned Pompeii into a pure Greek town.  Their reign ended when the Romans took control of Pompeii around 200 BC.  The Romans retained control over Pompeii until the end...  a fateful day in 79 AD when Mt Vesuvius unleashed its fury on the 20,000 inhabitants of this thriving Roman city.

However, as my father is fond of saying, every dark cloud has a silver lining.  Although this tragic event ended the lives of 20,000 Pompeian residents, the ash that buried the town served as a sort of mummification for the entire city.  The eruption of 79 AD which buried the town in ash actually captured a moment in time.  Under the ash everything remained as it was at the time of the eruption.  Artwork was preserved.  Buildings were preserved. Several important clues were left behind.  These clues give us a little glimpse into the past.  These clues are the silver lining that can be seen when you visit the ruins at Pompeii.  

Castellum Acquae - Water entered the city through this - 20k

Above (left) - Castellum Acquae - Water entered the city through this mechanism.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much information regarding the use of this structure.  However the interesting shape of the chamber and the two large blocks in the center are intriguing.   

Until recently I could only speculate about the use of the strange blocks in the center of this aqueduct.  I can now tell you that after the water entered the city the stream was divided into three channels.  One stream fed the public fountains. A second stream carried water to the public baths while the third stream brought water to the most affluent Pompeian citizens.  Blocks would be placed in the "square-ish" structures to divert the flow to the appropriate destination.   In times of drought the rich were the first who would lose their water supply, the baths were the second to go dry.  In extreme cases of drought water was provided only to the public fountains.   Below (right) - This is a fine example of a Pompeian artwork.  This fresco comes from the Vettius House where there are several beautifully preserved frescoes.

Fresco found at the Vetti house - 17k


Marina Gate - One entrance to the lost city - 20k

  Left - This is the Marina Gate.  One of several portals to the city.  The gates were named according to where they would lead you.  For instance, the Marina Gate faced the sea, while the Vesuvio Gate faced Mt. Vesuvius.     

Next - The Streets of Pompeii >>              

Credit for the info on this page: 
              Blanchard, Paul. "Blue Guide, Southern Italy; From Rome to Calabria", New York: W. W. Norton & Company
              Inc., 1982.