TRAVEL | Pompeii & Vesuvius | Summer 2017
In 2005 I lived in Cambridge, England, and instead of Sophomore year of American high school, I was in Year 11 in the UK. One of the classes I recall best was "Classics", and one of the subjects I remember most vividly was the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. A brief history lesson: on the 24th of August AD 79, the volcano (pictured in many of the photographs below) Mount Vesuvius, erupted violently. The explosion sent a plume of ashes, pumice, rocks, and scorching-hot volcanic gases rocketing into the air so high that it was visible for hundreds of miles surrounding the volcano. Much of what we know about the event came from the writer Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the explosion. He recounted the enormity of the event, saying “I believed I was perishing with the world and the world with me.” Pliny's account of the event was proven true in the 18th century when the ruins of Pompeii were uncovered during excavations of the region. While it didn't make much of a difference for those who perished in the first century, archeologists, historians, and tourists benefit greatly from the method of Pompeii's destruction - burial in volcanic ash, not lava flow, covered the town, providing an almost perfect preservation of the ancient town.
The refrain on my mind the whole visit: "if you close your eyes does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?" Visiting Pompeii is an unreal experience. The buildings, roads, technology, tools, even the people were preserved, providing a detailed time capsule of the culture and history of Ancient Rome. Walking around the ruins feels like walking back in time. Leaving Pompeii, we climbed Vesuvius itself, which is an eerie experience in some ways, since it is expected that, as an active volcano, it may erupt at any time. I strongly suggest you visit Pompeii sooner than later if you can, since, well, it may be "de-excavated" in the not too distant future...
All pictures by Karl Magnuson
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L