Part I: Core Study: Cities ofVesuvius – Pompeii and Herculaneum Principal Focus: Students investigate the range and nature of archaeological and written sources available for the study of the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum through an exploration of issues relating to reconstruction, ownership and custodianship of the past
The Physical Environment of Campania (pp.25-30)Ancient Pompeii andHerculaneum were located in thefertile region of Campania inSouthern Italy; a crescent shapedvolcanic plain of approximately 13595 km squared at the foot of theApennine Mountains. TheRomans referred to this area asCampania Felix (productiveCampania) (Bradley, 2005, p.25).Mount Vesuvius rises menacinglyabove the modern port city ofNaples. It is obvious from thispicture that the city, like Pompeiiand Herculaneum would be at http://www.resortsinluxury.com/images/pictures/ViewofNaplesBay.jpgserious risk if (and when) thevolcano erupts once more.
Natural Features & ResourcesPompeii & Herculaneum• The sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are located in western Italy in a region called Campania, near the Bay of Naples• With the coast to the west and the Apennine Mountains to the east, Campania is a fertile plain, traversed by two major rivers, the Volturno River being the major, and blessed with soil rich in phosphorus and potash• In ancient times, the regions crop yield was six times higher than the average of the rest of the peninsula• Campania was so fertile that some areas had up to three grain crops per year• The region also hosted some of Italys chief olive groves, and the mountains nourished thousands of sheep.
The Urban Landscape of Pompeii and Herculaneum (pp.30-32) Pompeii Herculaneum
Pompeii Today Temples, roadways, city gates and the forum of Pompeii... All in the ever present shadow of Vesuvius
Herculaneum TodayLess excavation has been done atHerculaneum... mainly due to thedifferent association with Vesuvius.Herculaneum was nearly wiped off theface of the earth, rather than beingslowly buried under ash and pumice.
Evidence Provided by the Sources• In AD 79, Mt. Vesuvius erupted, killed many of the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum and buried the towns• Sources providing evidence for this event include: – The letters of Pliny the Younger, an eye-witness to the eruption – References in the ancient sources – Statius, Martial, Suetonius and Dio Cassius – Archaeological remains – Human remains – Modern work by Vulcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson
STAGE 1• Using information from these sources, the following course of events has been proposeda) A cloud of ash and pumice erupted 20km into the air, described as the Plinian phase, after Pliny’s description comparing the shape of the cloud to a Pine tree, rising on a tall trunk then splitting into branches
STAGE 1b) This ash and pumice fell onto the streets and buildings of Pompeii for 17 hours
STAGE 1c) The deposit of ash and pumice was now more than 2.7 meters deep, heavy enough to have caused the collapse of some buildings...sparks may have ignited fires
STAGE 1d) Most Pompeians took the opportunity to flee at this stage. People at Herculaneum would not have been directly affected as the wind carried the ash and pumice away from their town
STAGE 2a) A series of at least 5 pyroclastic surges of searing hot ash and poisonous gasses, travelling at speeds up to 300kph; and flows of molten rock, rock, ash and pumice heated to 400 degrees Celsius
STAGE 2b) The first surge killed those remaining in Herculaneum but did not reach Pompeii. The second surge and flow also dissipated before reaching Pompeiic) The third and fourth surges and flows covered Pompeii, killing all of the people and animals remaining in the area
STAGE 2d) The fifth and sixth surges and flows completely buried Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae, Oplontis and perhaps other villages yet to be discovered
Impact on the Towns• The eruption changed the geography of the region around Vesuvius• Pompeii was covered by 4 metres of volcanic material, mainly hardened ash and pumice• Herculaneum lay beneath 25metres of debris which cooled into a solid mass of volcanic material
Impact on the Towns• The Sarnus River was turned from its course, the coastline was extended into the Bay of Naples by about 500 metres and raised by about 25 metres, making it difficult to locate the site of Herculaneum
Impact on the Towns• The number of casualties is not known• Pompeii’s population of between 10 000 and 20 000 may have been larger due to summer visitors at the time of the eruption• It has been estimated that about 90% of the population escaped in the early stages• Those who remained were crushed under falling debris, killed by hot ash, gas or thermal shock• Over time, casualty estimates have been reduced from 2000 to 500
Impact on the Towns• At Herculaneum few human remains were found within the excavations and at first it appeared that most of the residents had escaped• Later excavations found almost 300 skeletons in vaulted brick buildings along the shoreline