Stories from the Past: The Story of PompeiiPrevious SlideNext SlideBack to Contents (this slide)
Something bad was about tohappen in the Roman city ofPompeii. Worse still, hardlyanyone saw it coming. It was 24th August 79 A.D.Pompeii was a large andimportant Roman city locatedat the bottom of Mount Did YouVesuvius. Know? Thousands of people lived in Pompeii wasPompeii. Pliny was a poet and a located nearcitizen of Pompeii. Being a poet, Naples inof course he loved writing. On Southern Italy.the morning of 24th August he Here you can see the remainsnoticed something strange. He of the city withwould soon have plenty to write the volcano inabout. the background.
Pliny had an uncle. Did YouHis name was Know?Pliny the elder. Mount Vesuvius isPliny the elder the only volcano onwas a scientist the Europeanand part of the mainland to haveRoman army. He erupted within the last hundredlived a good life. years. On this particular day he had justeaten, and decided to relax and have abath. While he was sitting in the bath,he noticed the ground started to shake. He got out of the bath and looked out.To his amazement, he saw huge columnsof smoke coming out of Mount Vesuvius.
As he was a scientist, Pliny the elder wasn’t scared. Instead he was curious. He didn’t know that earth tremors and smoke meant that Mount Vesuvius was a volcano about to erupt, the first time for nearly 2,000 years. “Mmmm,” he said to himself. “What could this mean? Earth tremors, smoke from the mountain… I’ve never seen anything like it before. I must find out more…” Not wanting to miss chance to learn something new, he gotdressed and left his villa. Not realising the danger, Pliny theelder walked briskly towards the mountain.
Meanwhile the young Pliny stayed calm. He Did You started to write down what he saw. Know? Pliny’s mum, who was cooking at the time, started to panic and cry. “What’s going on?”Volcanoes often she cried. “Why is the ground shaking?” Shespit out ash, gases peered out of the window, and was shocked toand pumice before see the black smoke in the sky. She grabbedthe lava erupts.This is a warning Pliny’s hand. “We must get out of here.sign of an eruption. Something bad is about to happen.” By the time they started to flee northwards, a dense black cloud of ash had blotted out the light, and the crowds of screaming people fled around Pompeii in terror.
“This way,” screamed Pliny’s mum. “We must escape Pompeii.”The two of them ran and ran, away from the smoke and chaos.Wisely, they chose to leave all their possessions behind. Behind them, people were collapsing, unable to breathe through thevolcanic smoke, or being scolded by the hot ash and pumice that was falling like rain. By now, Pliny the elder had realised the danger. He took shelter in one of the buildings of Pompeii. Hours passed. By now many had fled. Many had choked to death. Like Pliny the elder, some were still sheltering in Pompeii. They had so far survived the 3 meters of ash and pumice that had fallen.
By midnight, their luck ran out. The firstriver of lava charged down off themountain and swept through Pompeii. The intense heat of the lava burnteverything in its path. Tragically, everyonewho stayed in Pompeii, including Pliny theelder, were roasted to death. The wavesof lava crushed the houses, and left the Did Youdead bodies encased in blankets of ash. Know? By morning, Pompeii and the surroundingareas were Lava is moltendevastated and rock that is socompletely hot it hasdestroyed. Tens melted. It flowsof thousands, like a river. When it cools, itmaybe more, had starts toperished. harden.
As they fled as early as possible, Pliny the younger and his mother managed to escape the deadly gas and heat. Pliny started to write about the event. After the eruption, word soon spread amongst the Roman empire. Within days the remains of Pompeii was crawling with Romans. Some were trying to help and clear the destruction,others were digging tunnels and looting the houses, taking anythingof any value. Many interesting things were found. Food on the table. Theremains of people at work. It was like life in Pompeii had ended allof a sudden.
To this day, the destruction of Pompeii remains one of the world’s most infamous and tragic events. The remains can be seen today, drawing tourists from all over the world. Amazingly, the writings of Pliny the Did You younger were discovered and are now Know? preserved.Pompeii was Thanks to Pliny‘rediscovered’ in and his writings, we1748. Since then, have a betterits excavation has understanding ofprovided a detailed what happened oninsight into the lifeof a city at the that fateful day.height of theRoman Empire.