Pompeii: Just do it!

Frescoes in the Villa of Mysteries, Pompeii

Ancient history doesn’t turn my crank like medieval history does, but Pompeii is not to be missed regardless of your historical interests. Buried by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, Pompeii disappeared until its rediscovery in 1748.

Large sections of the city have since been unearthed–and I do mean large! The size of the city shocked me. Public buildings, retail shops, bakeries, a large theatre, public baths, even a brothel, and many homes now give mute testimony to the vibrant city that once was.

Bird mosaic at PompeiiA first-hand account of the eruption was written by Pliny the Younger, twenty-five years after the eruption in which his beloved uncle, Pliny the Elder perished attempting to rescue survivors. In two brief letters, he describes the earthquakes and ash, shooting flames and raining cinders, which brought terror to the entire Bay of Naples.

While Pompeii provides a fascinating view of life in a Roman era city, I was intrigued by the unexcavated areas. Ten or twelve feet above the level of the Roman streets, grassy fields bloom with daffodils in the spring, intrusions into the outline of the greater city. When I asked the staff about these areas, I was assured that they were excavating all the “important” areas, implying that nothing of significance lay in those intrusions.

How could they know?