Knowledge is often an arbitrary gift. The people of the ancient world, with few of our advantages, worked out many things for themselves. They figured out the uses of pi, for instance. They thought up philosophy, art, geometry, theatre and democracy. They designed and built buildings such as the pyramids and the Colosseum. Their architecture and sculpture still inspired people in the late Middle Ages; the Romans’ roads were unequalled till the 19th century.
If you go to Pompeii you can still see the stone paving on the streets and walk along them. Spooky. (Photo taken in 1995)
And yet…before the eruption of Vesuvius, no one apparently had realised that there was a link between earthquakes and volcanic activity. This ignorance had disastrous consequences for the people of Pompeii, who had experienced many tremors but did not suspect that the dormant volcano nearby might be about to spew out gases, pumice and overpowering heat. When it did, those who fled without a moment’s pause had a chance of survival. Those who hunkered down to sit it out were melted by a pyroclastic surge.
The troublesome mountain of Vesuvius in 1995
Click HERE to do a crossword on Pompeii and walk (metaphorically speaking) its ancient, empty streets…
A modern-day view of Pompeii (photo taken in 1995)
(Actually there are lots of tourists there now. It’s a fascinating place to visit if you ever get the opportunity.)