Weird History
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Facts About Pompeii We Just Learned That Made Us Say 'Really?'

October 6, 2020 28.3k votes 4k voters 267.9k views19 items

List RulesVote up the Pompeii facts you just learned today.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD is one of the most famous volcanic events in human history, largely because of what it left behind. Many of the unfortunate residents of that ancient Roman city were forever frozen in ash, their homes and valuables encased in layers of volcanic material that kept them preserved for centuries.

You may already know a few interesting facts about Pompeii, but archaeologists are still making major discoveries at the site. The city and the volcano that ended it are perennial topics of interest on the Today I Learned subreddit, and we've selected a few of the most interesting city of Pompeii facts below. Vote up the ones you're learning for the very first time.

  • 1

    The Heat Of The Vesuvius Eruption Was So Intense It Turned A Man's Brain Into Glass

    From Redditor u/vnavilly:

    TIL the Mount Vesuvius eruption's extreme heat turned a man's brain to glass inside his skull!


    [Editor's Note: According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the "vitrified human brain tissue" was discovered in Herculaneum (a town located near Pompeii). The transformed brain was identified via DNA, and belonged to a man in his mid-twenties who was lying on a wooden bed at the time of his demise. An analysis of the wood revealed that it experienced a maximum temperature of 520 degrees Celsius, or 968 degrees fahrenheit, during the volcanic event.]

    New information?
  • 2

    Giraffe Meat Was A Menu Item In Pompeii

    From Redditor u/highwiregirl:

    TIL giraffe was on the menu in the ancient city of Pompeii.


    [Editor's Note: The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes, "the ancient Pompeiians ate in similar ways to modern-day Italians... But the average Pompeiian, it seems, rounded out the staples with a more exotic diet. The [University of] Cincinnati team found, in the remnants even of businesses that would have served the lower classes, evidence of salted fish that would have come from Spain. Via a drain from a property in the center of the plot, they also discovered evidence of shellfish not native to Italy. They found mineralized remnants, as well, of sea urchin. And also! The butchered leg joint of a giraffe."]

    New information?
  • 3

    Pompeii Contains Two Of The Earliest Examples Of The Sator Square

    From Redditor u/Apocalypseos:

    TIL of the Sator Square, a palindrome word square found in the ruins of Pompeii. The five words carved into it, "SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS" can be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, or right-to-left.


    New information?
  • 4

    Ancient Pompeiians Were Taller Than Modern Napolese

    From Redditor u/pandaemon666:

    TIL that the average height of people in Ancient Pompeii was greater than the average height of people in the city of Naples today.


    New information?