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NIHIL NOVUM SUB SOLE

1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

The fire, air and water not only didn’t destroy, but retained the greatest archaeological sites

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The forces of nature are powerful, uncontrollable and destructive, but sometimes produce unexpected results

Fire, air, water and earth are the four essential elements that make up the universe to the ancients. For us they are rather forces of nature with enormous destructive power. But it is paradoxical that precisely these destructive elements have preserved extraordinary many archaeological sites.

Thus the soil piled on layers covers and protects most of the archaeological sites; the fire of Mount Vesuvius preserved for posterity the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum; the infested air of the Paestum marshes protected the collection of Doric temples best preserved; the sea water has prevented the looting of thousands of remains scattered throughout the Mediterranean. In fact the only unstoppable destructive agent is man, as evidenced every day.

The ashes of Mount Vesuvius preserved the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum almost intact.


On August 24th 79 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Titus, the ashes of Vesuvius, near Naples, covered with a layer of several meters the city of Pompeii. An avalanche of mud and lava also covered the nearby and coastal city of Herculaneum. Toxic fumes poisoned and killed their inhabitants.


Both cities were destroyed, but also preserved under the ashes. This giant sarcophagus remained so for almost 1700 years, until in 1748 a farmer came upon the ruins of Pompeii while trying to dig a well. At that time the king of Naples was Charles of Bourbon, later Carlos III of Spain, who was the one who initiated the excavations.


This unique city is discovered in all its complexity: its streets, sidewalks, public buildings, fountains, houses with their kitchens, courtyards and gardens, its shops, taverns, theaters, brothels, temples, workshops, ... even human bodies in desperate attitudes of those who failed to escape in time.


The fire, so powerful and often destructive, indirectly preserved us this time a city nearly completely paralyzed and fossilized in time.
 

   
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