HOW/WHY DID POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM DIE?
WHAT WERE THE IMMEDIATE AND FUTURE EFFECTS?
On the 24th of August, 79AD, the Italian volcano Vesuvius erupted. Many hours and six eruptions later, the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried. The people, and their activities at the time of the eruption, were suspended for centuries in layers of lava, ash and pumice. Though a peasant discovered the remains of Herculaneum in 1710, it was not until 1860, when Guiseppe Fiorelli was appointed to Professor of Archaeology at Naples, that scientific excavation began. Slowly over the next one hundred and forty years, archaeologists battled against natural disasters, wars, the environment and even man himself, in a bid to uncover, investigate and preserve the secrets of these two ancient cities.
Both towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were built on prehistoric lava flow on the Campania Plains and within two to three kilometres of the base of Mount Vesuvius. The nutrients from the lava made both towns lush in vegetation and were once described by Pliny the Elder as 'one of the loveliest places on earth'. Pompeii was situated close to the Sarno River, their water source, and was further away from Vesuvius than Herculaneum. If viewing from the Bay of Naples, Pompeii sits to the right of the volcano. Herculaneum is situated on the Bay of Naples and was the closest of the two towns to Vesuvius. Viewed from the bay, Herculaneum sits to the left of the volcano. The locations of these two towns was to play a large part in the way in which they were later buried by the volcano.
Though there had been some minor tremors in previous years, the cities had their first taste of real volcanic activity in 62AD. The roof of Pompeii's great basilica collapsed, as...