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Tuesday, 28 September 2010


We spent an interesting day in Pompeii wandering around the ruins. It was a hot languid day and we took our time, drinking frequently from water bottles that we took with us. The photograph above is of one of the victims of the eruption of 79AD which buried the city in ash. In the eruption Pliny the Elder died while attempting to rescue inhabitants, as admiral of the Imperial Fleet. His nephew Pliny the Younger wrote one contemporary account of the event.

During early excavations of the site, occasional voids in the ash layer had been found that contained human remains. It was Fiorelli who realized these were spaces left by the decomposed bodies and so devised the technique of injecting plaster into them to perfectly recreate the forms of Vesuvius’s victims. What resulted were highly accurate and eerie forms of the doomed Pompeiani who failed to escape, in their last moment of life, with the expression of terror often quite clearly visible. This technique is still in use today, with a clear resin now used instead of plaster because it is more durable, and does not destroy the bones, allowing further analysis.

Fiorelli, refers to Giuseppe Fiorelli the fifth or sixth leader of the excavations.  Even animal remains were found, and the cast below is of a dog that archaeologists believe was chained outside the house of Vesonius Primus, a Pompeiian fuller.


Some of the houses at Pompeii have a mosaic of a dog at the entrance, and the words cave canem, or beware of the dog in Latin.


Parts of the ruins have been “restored” at some time in the past (see above) and there were announcements of impending restorations in other places, but I still got the impression that the ruins had been somewhat neglected over the past century and a half.

Posted by bigblue on 28/09/2010 at 08:08 AM
Filed under: EuropeItaly • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share

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