Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pompeii’s Dead

A new book on Pompeii by classics scholar Mary Beard of Cambridge University is considered in a travel article in the Globe and Mail.  Beard believes that most of those who died were either slaves or those who intentionally chose to take their chances. 

Beard argues that Pompeii's population was smaller than previously thought, about 12,000, and that most escaped the volcanic eruption, taking the bulk of their possessions with them.

That would explain why relatively few corpses (1,100) and household effects were later found. Some citizens and slaves - half the population were slaves, many of them Jews brought from Israel after the Roman destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD - must have been stranded or chosen to stay. There were, after all, remains of 21 fresh bread loaves found in Pompeii's ovens, when excavations began in the mid-18th century.

Beard's book is too new to have changed the way local tour guides and historians treat the Pompeii saga, but for anyone contemplating a visit to one of the world's greatest archeological sites, it's a useful read.

The article continues with a look at the nearby ruins of Herculaneum and the modern city of Naples.  It ends with advice that I wish someone had given me: do not even think about driving a car in Naples.

Mt Vesuvius from south, tb111705547ddd Mount Vesuvius from the south

HT: Explorator

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6 Comments:

  • I did not envy you. What a mess that place was...I think you took that picture on top of a fence if I remember correctly.

    By Blogger Chris McKinny, at Sun Jun 28, 03:17:00 PM  

  • What are your thoughts on the bait that the Ethiopian eunuch floated out there about the Ark and the recent stories about Paul's tomb and sarcophagus/bones? Pretty big stories (at least the second one) and haven't seen a post yet! I thought you planned your studies based on media's storyline?

    By Blogger Jeff, at Mon Jun 29, 12:39:00 AM  

  • Jeff - I think it's a non-story; there's simply nothing to report. Nothing happened. Some profit from this rumor-mongering, and I have no interest in contributing to that. (They profit from sales of worthless books, from ads on websites, and from speaking engagements to gullible American evangelicals.)

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Jun 29, 07:27:00 AM  

  • Jeff - Todd discussed the discovery of Paul's sarcophagus when it was first announced.

    http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2006/12/st-pauls-sarcophagus-unearthed.html

    With an update here

    http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2006/12/updates-pauls-sarcophagus-and-western.html

    By Blogger A.D. Riddle, at Mon Jun 29, 10:39:00 AM  

  • Jeff,

    I apologize for not reading your comment carefully, and responding only to the matter of the ark. Thanks to A.D. for the links about Paul's sarcophagus.

    The Washington Post covers the latest about Paul's tomb here: http://tinyurl.com/nbhry7

    I don't have any significant opinion about it. In favor of this identification is the tradition and the fact that the bones apparently date to the right period. If I find out more, I may post about it.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Mon Jun 29, 10:48:00 AM  

  • I figured the Ark story was old and a ploy by that patriarch. I didn't realize the story on Paul was old as well. Thanks for the links!

    By Blogger Jeff, at Mon Jun 29, 11:27:00 AM  

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