Although there are countless clues indicating the rise and fall of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, the history of this place remains covered in mystery and legends. Here are some of the most interesting facts about the former city, as well as the reason why it is so popular, nearly 2,100 years after its destruction.
Although credited in history as part of the Roman Empire, Pompeii has deeper roots. According to some of the oldest structures found in the ruins of the ancient city, the first settlers appeared to be the ancient Greeks and not the Romans.
However, things are a little bit more complicated than that. It seems like the cult of the Egyptian goddess Isis was very popular amongst Pompeii locals, which can be easily verified thanks to the ruins of the famous Temple of Isis found in the city.
Moreover, various statuettes and images of the Egyptian goddess were found in over 20 houses scattered around the city, which made historians question the true cultural identity of Pompeii.
According to vestiges, the temple of Isis existed in the city at least 200 years prior to the volcano’s eruption in AD 79, meaning that followers of the goddess lived there. The theory is, in fact, very plausible, given Pompeii’s geographical location by the sea.
Lack of knowledge
The citizens of the city weren’t aware of the fact that Vesuvius was a volcano, let alone an active one, as it hadn’t erupted in nearly 2,000 years. Therefore, it wasn’t considered a threat and this is why people built houses so close to it.
However, the catastrophe was far from what it was depicted in movies, plays, and stories throughout the years. In fact, many locals managed to leave the city shortly before Vesuvius erupted, which dramatically diminished the total number of deaths. It is estimated that around 13% of the population died in the eruption, roughly counting for 2,000 people.
In many ways, the ancient city of Pompeii can be considered an archeological wonder as it was almost perfectly preserved after the blast. The reason is that, given the city’s proximity to the volcano, it was immediately covered by volcanic ash, helping preserve everything, including the bodies of the people who died, as well as vestiges of their former lives.
However, Pompeii wasn’t discovered until 1748, when workers accidentally found it while building a palace. It is estimated that over 3 million tourists visit the site yearly, which makes it one of the biggest attractions in Italy and Europe.
An active volcano
Mount Vesuvius remains the only active volcano on mainland Europe and is still considered one of the most dangerous in the entire world. Ever since the discovery of the city of Pompeii, the volcano erupted 17 times, the last time in 1944.