Last Days of Pompeii

by kpmautner

By the way, if you haven’t read Bullwer-Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii, it’s worth reading for the archeological and anthropological contexts.  Very, very Victorian, and very, very long-winded.  However, the descriptions of homes and businesses and buildings and temples is taken from life (he visited the sites) and is quite accurate.  The last couple of chapters, detailing the actual eruption and its aftermath, are taken word-for-word from the narrative of Pliny (the Elder or the Younger, don’t remember which, but it was a  Pliny), the only survivor who left a record.  Since Pliny the whichever was an historian among other talents, he left a detailed eye-witness account.

As the archeologists dug up the 25 metres of ash (which had, of course, since solidified) they came across shells that had once been human beings.  By filling the shells (kind of like molds) with plaster, they were able to re-construct actual individuals who died in the catastrophe. Apparently the ash solidified and made a framework around the body, and the body itself eventually decomposed, leaving the hollow mold.

The person below is believed to have been a slave belonging to a wealthy Roman.  The belt he is wearing is of the kind worn by upper servants.

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