We left Rome with a rented bus two days ago and headed for Pompeii. On the way we stopped at Sperlonga. This is an archaeological site where the emperor Tiberius built a beautiful villa. It is built so that next to the house is the dining area that goes right into a cave. In his time there was a room called the Triclinium, which means three couches where people ate. There were three couches and people would lay on their sides while servants brought them food. This Triclinium was actually right next to the fish ponds so that the people could see the fresh fish that they were about to eat. Dr. Robinson who you saw in an earlier post was the expert explaining the site to us. She said that it was very popular for Romans to have villas on the beach and so there were villas all along the coast, but not too many with an amazing cave like this one.
We arrived in Pompeii and settled in and the next day spent the whole day at the ancient site of Pompeii. Most people know the amazing story of Pompeii, but I will repeat it here. Pompeii is a village at the bottom of Mt. Vesuvius. In 62 AD there was a huge earthquake and then in 79 Mt. Vesuvius erupted. The people were just rebuilding from the earthquake when the erruption occurred. The eruption was so strong and so fast that it covered the village before people could leave or get their belongings. The lava was so hot that it burned up most everything, but in the places that things were (people, wood, household goods, etc…) there were holes that could be filled in with plaster and a mold could be made of what had been destroyed.
This was a HUGE find for archaeologists because there was so much left intact after the earthquake. You can see from this picture that it looks like a pretty normal street. There is a whole city that you can walk through just like this and many of the houses are intact so that you can tell what a house was like in ancient times. Many wall paintings remained also. John Clark guided us around the site. He has written many books on Pompeii and was able to take us to a few of the locked houses and explain what we were seeing. It was amazing. One story he told us that was interesting is that in one house (the house of Meander) they found bones of people and from the evidence around them you could tell that they had been digging into the ash trying to get to valuable things. You can imagine that people did not have time to get their silver or anything else, so after the volcano had settled down owners and also looters went and dug to find treasure. Anyway, later in this house archaeologists discovered a hoard of silver and so they think that probably the people who owned the house had come back to get the silver and died of asphixiation (they could not get enough oxygen) while digging tunnels.
There was SO much to see in Pompeii. We had to hurry through to see all of the things that Dr. Clark wanted to show us. There is still so much that we have not looked at and it would be worth going back. One book that Dr. Clark wrote, Roman Life 100 B.C. to A.D. 200 that is really interesting has a CD Rom in it that has a program where you can walk through one of the houses at Pompeii. You can go through the house as a person with different status and see that they were allowed to visit different areas. I highly recommend it!