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A Walk in Pompeii, Italy

Relic of a pitifully uneven battle; surviving column; Mount Vesuvius looms in background; Pompeii, Italy. October 2009.

Pompeii was destroyed by volcanic eruptions from Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.  For at least parts of two days, debris of various kinds, including dirt, ash, cinder, rock and what could only have been boiling lava, totally covered the city and some of its inhabitants.   All of this provided an archaeological snapshot for those who rediscovered and began to explore the site roughly 1500 years later.  By about 1750, excavation began in earnest.  Not all of the extensive damage that eventually snuffed out Pompeii and hid it from view for so long is attributable to volcanic action.  Early in 62 A.D., a highly destructive earthquake rocked Pompeii and the surrounding area, damaging or destroying all manner of structures.  Scholars say that some rebuilding took place during the years leading up to the volcanic eruptions of Mount Vesuvius.  Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, there is considerable and wide-ranging deterioration in Pompeii as, among other things, walls crumble and remaining frescoes continue to lose their detail.  All this despite a variety of preservation efforts.

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