Tag: Ancient Rome

Mount Vesuvius

One thousand, nine hundred and thirty-two years ago, today, there was a loud bang in Italy!

On the 24th August, in the year 79 A.D. the residents of Pompeii would undoubtedly had very little time to ponder on the consequences of a volcanic eruption just five miles away.

Vesuvius as seen from Pompeii.

Indeed, as the website Classroom of the Future explains,

Try to imagine huge, billowing, gray-black clouds like those at Mount St. Helens rushing toward you at a hundred miles an hour. That is probably what the ancient Romans saw just before they were entombed by hot ash.

There is much material available for those that wish to read more about the devastating effects of that volcanic eruption, so superfluous to add much more here.  The Classroom of the Future link is as good a place to start as any.  What I would like to comment on is this – but first a picture,

Vesuvius and nearby cities

What is worth noting that in 2009 the CIA Factbook records that the population of Naples was 2,270,000 people.  Naples is very close to Vesuvius.  As WikiPedia puts it,

Mount Vesuvius (ItalianMonte VesuvioLatinMons Vesuvius) is a stratovolcano on the Bay of NaplesItaly, about 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) east ofNaples and a short distance from the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting.

Here’s another reference,

There is a saying in Italy that goes ‘vedi Napoli e poi muori’. Translated, this means ‘see Naples and die’. The actual meaning of this refers to being overwhelmed by what a beautiful and an incredible city Naples is. (although some may argue that what it really means that Naples is such a dangerous and chaotic city that it will kill you!)

H’mmm. Get the timing wrong and that saying could have a literal meaning way beyond the ancient author’s intent!  I quote from the website Geology.com,

Starting in 1631, Vesuvius entered a period of steady volcanic activity, including lava flows and eruptions of ash and mud. Violent eruptions in the late 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s created more fissures, lava flows, and ash-and-gas explosions. These damaged or destroyed many towns around the volcano, and sometimes killed people; the eruption of 1906 had more than 100 casualties. The most recent eruption was in 1944 during World War II. It caused major problems for the newly-arrived Allied forces in Italy when ash and rocks from the eruption destroyed planes and forced evacuations at a nearby airbase.

But for all it’s power, the Vesuvius eruption of the 24th August, 79 was a squib compared to the Toba eruption some 73,000 years ago. More on that one in a few days perhaps.