Sunday, November 19, 2006

September 2006 - Pompeii & Mt. Vesuvius, Italy

We ended our trip to the Amalfi Coast with an educational field trip to the ancient ruins of Pompeii, once a thriving commercial port with Greek and Etruscan roots. Pompeii was left in ruins as a result of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. At that time, this ancient society of 20,000 with very modern comforts had faced more than its share of disasters. First it had been conquered by the Romans after several years of war. Then in 62 A.D. Pompeii experienced and earthquake which devastated the city. The city was rebuilt only to face the eruption of Vesuvius 17 years later. Most of what is known about ancient Roman society was discovered through analysis of these ruins which were discovered in the 1600s but not excavated until 1748. This is a picture of the entrance to the ruins which create a large city that took us the whole day to walk around.

The center of Pompeii contained a large square bordered by all types of businesses such as food markets, weights and measures, and government offices. The center of the square contained statues and temples to the Roman Gods. The remains of the temples can be seen in the next 4 pictures. Here is Kenny with Mount Vesuvius in the distance behind him.

Here is Casandra standing in the ruins of Pompeii's Supreme Court. Judges sat high above the crowd in the courtroom (in the stand above the columns) so that they could make a quick getaway after sentencing criminals.

Archeologists in 1748 discovered that there were bodies preserved by the ashes buried in Pompeii. They poured plaster over the bodies and created these molds of the victims of Mount Vesuvius. Their fear and agony is clearly visible.

This picture shows the ruins of Pompeii's largest home. This would have belonged to a member of the government and his family. The home contained a large interior courtyard with a fountain and a bronze statue showing the family's wealth and luxurious lifestyle. Behind the home were gardens in a small yard - also a luxury for a family living in the densely populated Pompeii.

Frescoes like this one were commonly painted on the interior walls of the homes of Pompeii's wealthiest citizens. They are amazingly well-preserved.Particularly this famous fresco which is located inside the former home of two very wealthy bachelors (I think they told everyone that they were roommates or cousins . . .). The HUGE penis was intended to celebrate their manhood. We think they were dudes that liked dudes. Judge for yourself.

Among some of the best preserved ruins is this bath house which shows how much the residents of Pompeii enjoyed their baths. This modern and co-ed bath house is comprised of changing rooms (shown above), steam rooms, a central pool, and frigidarium (cold water pool), and a tepidarium (warm room).Here we are in front of what used to be the central pool of these baths.

Here is Casandra in front of Pompeii's largest brothel - it is, after all, the world's oldest profession. A brothel like this was only frequented by the lower-class men and slaves. The wealthier men used call-girls or slept with their servants. The pornographic frescoes displaying various sex positions shown below are on the interior walls of the brothel.

Because its citizens clearly enjoyed all kinds of entertainment, Pompeii contains several large amphitheatres like this one where citizens of all classes watched plays and other circus-like spectacles.

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