Today completes our tour of Italy. We have been blessed in so many ways throughout this trip. The weather has been ideal. Tomorrow we are to leave the hotel about 3:00 AM for the airport at Rome. In the days ahead I hope to sort through the photos and share some on this blog.
Sunday afternoon we had the occasion to visit Pompeii. Pompeii is a city “frozen” in time by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, AD 79. Though this is not a “biblical city” it preserves scenes from a Roman city in the AD 1st century, and thus has tremendous value to us. Thus it helps us to see the setting for the biblical world in the early New Testament era.
Our photo shows the Temple of Jupiter in Pompeii at the north end of its forum. You can see Mt. Vesuvius in the background.
The eruption began about midday on August 24, AD 79. It was a catastrophe for the inhabitants of the small cities who had lived for hundreds of years in the fertile lands under Mt. Vesuvius. Apparently no one had suspected the mountain of being a potential volcano. Though some escaped, thousands were killed when the vast eruption blew off the top of the mountain. Pompeii was covered with 17 feet of volcanic matter, and nearby Herculaneum was covered to a depth of up to 70 feet!
Vesuvius’ eruption has proved an immense blessing to posterity, for it has preserved—almost ghoulishly—intact the houses, artifacts and corpses of two prosperous, fashionable towns as the Roman Empire neared its zenith. Bread has been left preserved in ovens, meals left ready on tables, scurriloius election notices for the forthcoming curia (council) elections—“Thieves support Vatius for aedile!”—survive on the walls. Inside the houses the bodies of lovers have been found in doomed embrace, while in the streets looters were overwhelmed with their booty. Without that terrible day, our knowledge of ordinary Roman life would be far less vivid (Nigel Rodgers, Roman Empire, p.356).
More to come!
Click on images for larger view.