Geography of Pompeii
Pompeii was an ancient Roman city located near modern-day Naples in the Italian region of Campania. It was founded around the 7th century BC by the Oscans and became a major city in the Roman Empire. A prosperous and wealthy trading post, it flourished until the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD that buried it in ash and rock.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, adventures and archaeologists uncovered the ruins of the city that had been frozen in time by the ash and rock fall that followed the eruption. Archaeologists have uncovered much of the city in the centuries that have followed, showing a vibrant city frozen in 79AD. Its streets, villas and houses were restored, giving us a window into the world of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire so long ago.
Discovery of Pompeii
Pompeii’s location had been forgotten for centuries until, in 1594, the Italian architect Domenico Fontana was commissioned to excavate nearby Mt. Somma. During the excavation, he found ancient brick walls, which inspired him to dig further and determine their purpose. After digging further, he uncovered the city of Pompeii and some of the artefacts that have been uncovered still remain to this day.
In 1748, Ferdinand IV, the King of Naples, started a large-scale excavation project in the area and commissioned a team of experts led by Giuseppe Fiorelli to uncover the city. It was during this time that Pompeii’s glory began to be rediscovered and much of the ruins, Frescoes and interior decorations of the villas and houses of the rich and poor alike were uncovered.
Ruins of Pompeii
Archaeologists have been uncovering these ruins ever since. Through careful excavation and careful documentation, much of the city has been restored and many artifacts and relics have been uncovered.
The city was laid out in a grid-like pattern with wide streets, villas and public spaces. Small shops and cafés lined the streets and courtyards with public baths and fountains. The city walls and harbour provided protection against threats from the sea and the city had a complex network of aqueducts which supplied its citizens with clean drinking water.
Artifacts have been uncovered that have helped archaeologists piece together the events of the day before the eruption and the items found in the ruins have given us a glimpse into the life of the citizens. They were a prosperous people, with well-furnished homes containing beautiful frescoes, mosaics and sculptures.
Researchers & Excavations
Since its discovery, the site has attracted researchers from near and far. Professionals excavate, clean and catalogue the findings. Every discovery adds to the history and knowledge of the city to help us understand what life may have been like in 79AD.
Various ancient texts have been recovered from Pompeii providing a rich source of information about life, social customs and beliefs in the Roman Empire, in particular those that shaped life in central and southern Italy.
Preservation & Conservation
The task of preserving and conserving the ruins of Pompeii is ongoing and requires vast government investments and international support. Various studies have been conducted to analyze the present condition of the ruins and determine the best way to restore and protect Pompeii from the elements.
The ruins of Pompeii are a unique component of world heritage and it is of utmost importance that they are kept in the best condition possible. International organizations, specialists and researchers all contribute to the preservation and conservation efforts for the site.
The conservation efforts of the ruins at Pompeii presents us with an ongoing challenge. To reduce further deterioration of the walls, a protective layer of shading was put up to shield the site from environmental impacts such as wind and rain. Although the technological improvements help to safeguard the site from further damage, Pompeii still faces environmental impacts from surrounding pollutions, such as acid rain.
In addition to the everyday environmental threats, the site itself is susceptible to man-made damage. Tourists through the years have been said to have left their own mark on the ruins, damage walls and not observe the signs and codes of conduct that are in place to preserve the ruins.
Climate of Pompeii
The climate of Pompeii is characterized by hot and dry summers and mild, wet winters. Temperatures in the summer seldom rise above 35°C and rarely fall below 0°C in the winter. Strong winds often accompany rainfall in the winter and the heavy rainfall can lead to flooding in the city.
The soil around Pompeii is rich and nutritious, which has created the perfect conditions for vegetation and agricultural activity. Before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the region was plentiful with lush green forests, olive trees, vineyards and a variety of crops.
Since its rediscovery centuries ago, Pompeii has provided us with a unique and incredible insight into life in the ancient Roman Empire. Thanks to the preservation and conservation efforts over the years, we can visit the ruins to this day and view the artefacts discovered. With its climate and its fertile soil, Pompeii presents an exciting opportunity to uncover further secrets of life that transpired centuries ago.