Monday, 9 August 2010

Step back in time

And so I return to an Italian theme for my blog post! We only went on one organised tour while we were away, a half day trip to Herculanium. A town that was destroyed when Vesuvius erupted about 2000 years ago. The most famous ruins in that area are Pompeii which is a huge excavation project but Herculanium is much smaller and better preserved. Herculanium was buried by 20ft of boiling volcanic mud the day after the eruption but because the mud slid into the town rather than having rocks and gasses fall at force from the sky like happened at Pompeii the buildings are better preserved. The area is much smaller there and you can literally see the whole thing in a half day. My husband is the more historically minded of the two of us but I have to say that the visit here really touched me. I really got the feeling of how day to day life was in that area thousands of years ago. The cobbled streets are intact and you suddenly realise that 2000 years ago, people were going about their everyday business, walking on those same stones.

Nowadays, we know about volcanoes and the damage they can do. If one erupts, the people who live in that area are well aware of what is happening and what to do but back then, they would have had no idea what it was. They knew the whole town of Pompeii was destroyed, never dreaming that the following day a totally different type of destruction was on it's way.

The archaeologists there thought the whole population had deserted the place and escaped after the first day of eruption as, unlike in Pompeii where many bodies were found, no evidence of people were found in any of the buildings they excavated. But recently they dug out the next area of excavation which was the storage area for boats on what was originally the harbour and found skeletons of about 300 people. Obviously trying to escape by sea but the mud slide had slid into the ocean, causing a tsunami and when the force of the water came back to shore, it brought all the mud back with it and where Herculaneum was once at the water's edge, there was now 2km of mud added to the shore line and they were trapped.

And so ends the history lesson. Normal blog writing will resume tomorrow!

9 comments:

scrappyjacky said...

Have visited Pompeii...and was fascinated by it...will put this one on my list to visit next time we're in the area.

jennifer said...

Very interesting, I had never heard of this town. It's scary to think of things like this happening. x

Denise said...

Fascinating- I always found that really interesting about the eruption etc etc and it must have been very atmospheric to be there.x

Cheri said...

I'm amazed at how well the archaeologists are able to excavate away the mud and leave the town intact. Must be really cool to walk down those streets realizing that at one time they were covered in mud way over your head!

Sian said...

I'm always up for a history lesson!

I've been to Pompeii - that was a lifetime ambition fulfilled - but not Herculaneum. It looks wonderful. Very moving, your story about the boats really made me gulp.

Ruth said...

That part of Italy is superb for history buffs. I've spent a day at Pompeii ~ overwhelming.

Maria Ontiveros said...

Would love to visit there. So far been to Venice, Rome and Milan but there's so much more of Italy we'd like to see. Thanks for posting.
Rinda

Amy said...

Thanks Deb, it's fascinating to walk those streets and to feel what it would have been like so long ago. What a dreadful way to die - thinking you are escaping and then the forces of nature take everything out of your hands.

humel said...

I'm reading these posts in reverse order lol - I can see from this that you had the same response to Herculaneum as I did xx