This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for April 6, 2017: My Heart Leaps Up

Apr. 6, 2017: on this day: excavation of Pompeii begins

Today in 1748, excavations began to unearth the doomed city of Pompeii, where nearly 11,000 people were killed in place and buried under 80 feet of ash by the sudden eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

The items buried beneath the volcanic matter, including human bodies, entire buildings, household items, food, drink, paintings, lay perfectly preserved for thousands of years by lack of air and moisture. The eruption stopped everything in a moment. Because Pompeii was situated so close to the vent of the volcano, death was instant even to those within closed buildings as a blast of heat at least 480 Fahrenheit surged over the city. Ash rained over the bodies for about six hours afterward, creating a fully mummified town beneath.

Some interesting things that have been recouped from the excavation over the years: a wine jar bearing the world’s earliest known marketing pun, Vesuvinum (from Vesuvius and Latin vinum, for wine); roots, seeds, and pollens from nearly intact gardens indicating that inhabitants grew and ate wheat, millet, walnuts, chickpeas, bitter vetch, olives, figs, pears, peaches, onions, carob, and grapes; vulgar graffiti that reads much like its modern counterparts, proclaiming Gaius Pumidus Diphilus was here and Oh, Epaphras, thou art bald.