Mount Vesuvius was responsible for the destruction of the city of Pompeii in 79 AD. Most everyone has heard one story or another about arguably the most well-known volcanic eruption in history, but how many of you know what really happened on that fateful day in Pompeii?
Weirdly, Mount Vesuvius isn't really that impressive in person. In terms of size, it's really more like a reasonably big hill. Of course, those with even a cursory knowledge of history or geology know that this mountain located on the west coast of Italy is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.
Honestly, the Vesuvius eruption is not even the most interesting part of the story of the Italian city. How much do you know about daily life before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius? Hopefully, these facts about Pompeii will shed some light on one of the most famous ancient catastrophes in recorded history, as well as the vibrant society that preceded it.
Archeologists Discovered Crushed Remains Of A Man Who Tried To Flee The Blast
Roughly 2,000 years after the initial explosion, archeologists working at the ancient site discovered the remains of a man who appeared to be fleeing the eruption. The skeleton was stuck under a large rock, and the impact of the stone is evidenced by lesions on the bones.
Scientists believe the man was around 30 years old and likely survived the initial phase of the eruption. A large 660-pound stone block – perhaps a stone jamb – flew into the air due to the force of the volcano's pyroclastic flow and pinned him to the ground.
The Disaster Of Pompeii Coined The Word "Volcano"
When most of us hear the word “Pompeii,” our minds probably go to volcanoes and hot lava. The citizens of Pompeii themselves, however, didn’t know what a volcano was.
Before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, there was no word for volcano. They had to come up with one right after the catastrophic eruption. The word is derived from “Vulcan," the Roman God of Fire.
Pompeii’s Citizens Had Perfect Teeth
During the 1800s, the skeletal remains found in Pompeii were cast in plaster for protection. This made research and examination impossible for scientists at the time, but, thanks to contemporary technology (more specifically, multi-layer CT scans), modern Italian scientists were able to make 3-D reconstructions of the skeletons that provided interesting insights into life in Pompeii.
One of the things that surprised researchers the most was the “Hollywood teeth” the majority of the Pompeii's citizens had. Their dental fortitude was mainly due to their good diet (rich in fruits and vegetables), as well as extremely high levels of fluorine that existed around the volcano.
The Ash Didn't Kill Everyone; The Heat Did
The estimates as to how many people were killed in Pompeii vary greatly, and the number has been a heated topic of debate among historians for decades. Regardless of how many people actually perished, it seems that we have been wrong in our belief that most of the victims died of suffocation from the ash in the air. New studies suggest that most died instantly from the extreme heat. That's right, unfortunately most of them were roasted (or boiled) alive.