Monday, December 1, 2014

Pompeii No.38: Gifts from Vesuvius

www.lovethesepics.com
Recently, Allan and Peter – good friends and neighbors – traveled to Spain to visit with Peter's family. While there, they shared my blog with Peter's brother-in-law, Joan, who has visited Pompeii.

Joan is a very generous fellow, because he parted with four little gems that he had picked up in the rubble of Pompeii.

When they got home, Peter and Allan gave me these artifacts in the handsome presentation you see above. You can imagine how surprised and delighted I was, especially since I have never been to Pompeii!

The first item is a piece of pumice measuring approximately one inch. When Vesuvius erupted, there were two phases of the destruction, which lasted over two days. First, on the morning of August 24, 79 A.D., there was a tall column of material that shot up from Vesuvius and then fell like rain. This is named the Plinian phase, so-called after Pliny the Younger, who witnessed the eruption at a distance and who left the only eye-witness account.

Light and small pumice like the one above rained for 18 hours, and while the pumice rain was not a direct threat to human life, it accumulated to probably more than eight feet, causing roofs to collapse and buildings to fill with the equivalent of heavy Styrofoam pellets.

By the morning of August 25, the residents still in Pompeii realized that the city was uninhabitable. There was a mass exodus, but for those who had remained, it was already too late. The second, or Peléan phase of eruption started. (Peléan is a reference to the observations of the 1902 eruption of Martinique's Mount Pelé.)

In that phase the 18-hour column collapsed and a glowing cloud of high-temperature gas and dust raced down Vesuvius at approximately 60 mph (100 km), killing anyone who remained in its path.

The second item is a piece of lava, shown above. Ironically, the rain of pumice and dust which initially destroyed Pompeii, also preserved the city against the lava that followed. This piece measures 1¼".

Finally, the third and fourth items are two mosaic pieces, each less than ½". Some mosaics were scattered to the winds, as the weight of the pumice destroyed ceilings, walls and floors.

I will be proud to permanently display these interesting and historic artifacts in the Pompeii Room when it is completed!

15 comments:

  1. Dear Mark,
    These are truly unique gifts from the the Vesuvius eruption in Pompeii that I know you will treasure forever. What a lovely presentation!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. Dear Karena,

      It's amazing to realize that they are more than 1,900 years old!

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  2. How cool!! And thoughtful.Those treasures will be right at home in your Pompeii inspired room. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Mark.

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    1. Hi, Loi,

      Having a surface on which to place these little treasures will spur me on to furnish the room! I had a pleasant, low-key Thanksgiving, and of course, some leftovers!

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  3. Dear Mark - It is lovely that you have some actual artifacts resulting from the Vesuvius eruption to display in your Pompeian masterpeice.
    I remember when we flew to Naples our plane had to stack over Vesuvius. We flew round and round for about half an hour looking right down into its heart which was smoking - a wonderful view.
    Really admire this months button with the emerald green glass shell design.

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    1. Dear Rosemary,

      Isn't interesting how people move back to and stay in such danger spots? To live in the shadow of a smoking volcano would unnerve me, no less than living on the San Andreas Fault.

      I'm glad you like December's button; I think it's a little jewel, and I chose it for its holiday coloring.

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  4. Hello Mark, That truly is an apposite gift. In addition to your friends' thoughtfulness and generosity, it is amazing how those four small fragments embody the entire story of the fate of Vesuvius and Pompeii, the different stages of eruption and destruction. Of course, now you have to provide the perfect shrine for them, but you are certainly up to the challenge. The very presence of these artifacts will animate and consecrate your entire project.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello, Jim,

      Thank you for your comment. The mention of "shrine" immediately set some inner wheels into motion, and a number of glass reliquaries came to mind. I've been thinking of simply keeping these items on a table, but I could imagine a glass wall-mounted case as well. In any event, you know I'll have fun with the challenge.

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  5. Pompeii is so fascinating -put it on your travel bucket list, you'd love it! Nearby naples has some hidden gems too although is kind of rough for travelers, I had an awful visit there. Such a sweet and thoughtful gift!

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    1. Hi, Stefan,

      I am being drawn to Pompeii with each brush stroke, and I have no doubt that I will make a trek there eventually. I have a long bucket list, but Pompeii is close to the top.

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  6. Dear Mark, What wonderful gifts you have received. To have a physical presence of objects from Pompeii will complete your room.
    A reporter from CNN sent me a chunk of the East Berlin Wall. He was there as it fell. I took a hammer to it and gave the other half to my elderly German History Professor. He was speechless.

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    1. Dear Gina,

      What a wonderful story, and how great that you could share the gift! I am a firm believer that the building block of the Universe is consciousness, and that objects can and do retain the emotional charges of energy we give to them. And believing that, I am doubly happy to have the essence of Pompeii's history in my room.

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    2. It's really awesome when one realizes that the four items represent a particular day 1,935 years ago.

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  7. What a wonderful addition to your magnificent room, Mark. You are fortunate to have such caring friends.

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    1. Dear Yvette,

      I am indeed fortunate to have good friends, and I count you as one of them! Thank you for always being so supportive.

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