Archaeologically excavations in Pompeii are some of the most
unique places in the world. Here, as in the photo, the life of
the whole city, its inhabitants, clothes, utensils and household
items that they used daily were perfectly preserved. Of all the
cities and villages that were destroyed during the eruption of
Mount Vesuvius in 79, Pompeii gives us the most complete picture
of the consequences of the eruption and the sequence of events
that accompanied it. While
equally destroyed, the actions of the population were different.
Since Herculaneum did not suffer from the initial fallout of
volcanic debris, most of the population managed to escape before
the pyroclastic wave swept the city.
number of inhabitants of Pompeii during the eruption remains open
for discussion, in the range of approximately from 6,000 to more
than 20,000. The total number of victims found is 1,150 identifiable
bodies. However, we must take into account that most of Pompeii
still lies underground. In addition, the first excavations of the
18th and 19th century did not make any casts at all. That is, dozens
or even hundreds of voids left by the bodies were simply ignored. Of
these, 394 bodies were found in the lower layers of pumice, while
650 were found in the upper pyroclastic sediments. If we assume that
there is a similar distribution of victims in the not excavated
areas of the city, the total death toll in the city due to the
eruption is more than 1600 people. How many people died outside the
city, we probably never know.
During the first phase of the
eruption, a large amount of pumice stone fell on Pompeii, burying
the city to a depth of 6-9 feet. During this phase, most of the
inhabitants managed to leave the city. However, 38% of the known
victims were killed during this phase, mainly as a consequence of
the collapse of the roofs and walls under the weight of pumice.
During the second phase of the eruption, 51% of the victims were
inside buildings, while 49% were outdoors. All residents in this
phase, however, regardless of their location, were killed by the
pyroclastic wave that flooded the city. Surprisingly, but apparently
the first wave was not so much destructive. Some residents were able
to escape and were covered by the second pyroclastic wave.
Statistics of the dead inhabitants of
Bodies found in sediments of pumice falling (The
first hours of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius)
|Beyond city walls of Pompeii
Bodies found in the pyroclastic deposit (Later
hours of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius)
|Beyond city walls of Pompeii
Plaster casts of corpses
soft tissues of the corpses were destroyed during the chaotic
eruption, but they left behind empty niches. Archaeologists fill
these voids with gypsum as a result they get exact copies of people
who once died here. It is reliably known that at least 2,000 people
died from the 20,000 inhabitants of Pompeii. However, this number is
approximate. Many bodies were found outside the city limits of
Pompeii, and many of the voids of many bodies were destroyed by
early archaeologists who did not understand the importance of their
discoveries. There is no doubt that a significant part of the
population managed to escape. It was difficult for us to tell how
their fate turned out and what exactly they felt when they returned
to the place of their city covered with lava. You can only imagine.
No records of personal experiences of these people have been
preserved. We can only imagine it on the material finds of
In general, the organizers of the Museum of
Pompeii, it seems to me, made a grave mistake by collecting most of
the victims in one place. It would be more interesting to place the
plaster figures or their copies in the places where they were found.
Here are some of the victims of the death of Pompeii.
Garden of the Fugitives
The most famous collection of bodies is in the
so-called Garden of the Runaways. The bodies of a small family,
including adults and children, are preserved here. This is probably
one of the most popular places in Pompeii.
of the curious finds in Pompeii was found in the ruins of a small
hotel known as the Moregin Hotel. Two bodies were found here. One
body belonged to a young man, and another to a young woman. A gold
bracelet in the shape of a snake with diamond eyes was found on the
girl's hand. The bracelet weighed half a kilogram (1 pound). Inside
this bracelet, the inscription "Dominus ancillae suae" (Lord to a
Slave) ie. the owner gave this expensive thing to his former slave.
In Roman times, it was normal to keep a whole harem of slaves
and sometimes slaves for personal pleasure. However, in this case,
the master freed his beloved from slavery. It is possible that here
they met and spent time away from everyone when they were overtaken
by an eruption. The girl and the young man tried to hide in the
knowledge and wait out the natural cataclysm in the vain hope that
all this would end quickly. When pumice stone began to gather on the
roof, and hardwood floors began to pop under the weight of
geological rocks, the lovers tried to escape, but did not have time.
The roof could not stand it and collapsed. Young people were
instantly buried and died immediately.
In the last minutes of lives residents of Pompeii suffered the worst
fate. Hot gases escaped the volcano and descended on the unsuspecting
city. Many people who tried to flee pounding of the city by rocks and
pumice were caught by this un- relentless enemy. Their last seconds of life
were horrible and their bodies clearly depict last moments of agony.
Many tried to cover their mouths or hide their faces in hopes that new
danger will pass. It did not work.
Father and son
This strange composition of two bodies was found in a small
private garden at a rich residence, known as the House of
Crypto-Portico or the House of T. Lucretius Carus. Judging by
the inscriptions it was house of Lucretius and his daughter.
They apparently remained until the last moments at home and did
not have time to escape. The girl tried to escape, burying her
face in the clothes of her dying father.
Man in palestra
It was found in the South Colonnade at Palestine toilets. He was
wearing boots and a hooded cloak. Apparently he tried to close
his mouth with clothes to avoid painful death from eruption
Body of the slave
This plaster figure retained part of the skeleton. Visible bones
of the skull and teeth. The belt of the victim is also clearly
visible. In ancient times, such leather belts were issued to
slaves. On them the owners wrote the name of the owner, the
address and other information. In fact, slaves in ancient Rome
had no more rights than modern dogs.
Body of the child
Unfortunately, this body is one of the few that left at the
place of death of a person. Tourists often forget that Pompeii
was not only a place of life, but also a place of death for
thousands of people of all sexes and ages. The body of this
child was found on the bottom step in the
house of Fabius Rufus.
Apparently he tried to run away, but lost consciousness and
rolled down the stairs
This dog became a victim of the eruption as it was
tied. The poor animal had no chance to save. Judging by the curved
body, the dog died in terrible agony.
Most of the inhabitants of Pompeii did not die
from lava or even from pieces of geological rocks and pumice stone
that flew over the city. Most people died, suffocating poisonous
gases from the eruption. The bodies of many victims have saved the
last painful seconds of the lives of these people. Some tried to
cover their faces in death agony. Unfortunately, this did not save
Skeletons in Pompeii
Not all the bodies found in Pompeii were turned
into plaster casts. Sometimes find complete skeletons. So recently
the corpse of a young man was found. The cause of death is clear
without a doctor, as they say.