To many these are just pictures of an ancient city in the area called Campania that is old. A moment caught in modern time because we can take pictures. In fact, these are MY pictures that I took when I was there.
In fact the big pic on top is the settings of my novel Threatened Loyalties and short story For the Family. What most don’t realize is that where I am standing when I took these pictures is that I am standing on volcanic vomit. That both those houses in the top picture and the buildings below it were once ocean-front properties. That the grass and wall was once…not there. Lazy waves once lapped a pebbled beach here.
We all know about Vesuvius. We know it erupted and buried the ancient city of Pompeii in an avalanche of ash and more volcanic vomit. (Btw, volcanic vomit is not lava only. It can be a massive mud flow which it was in this case.) But that very same eruption also buried another city in a totally different way. Same day August 24,79AD.Same explosion. Same volcano. Yet totally in a different way as if two volcanoes.
It is said that Mt St. Helens eruption was almost identical to this eruption on this day. (BTW Vesuvius is alive and well. It can still erupt any day. In fact it is over due. It erupted before Pompeii and Herculaneum was there. It has erupted again in WWII.) The first explosion was lateral, meaning it blew out the side of the mountain like Mt St Helens and over Herculaneum. The prevailing winds blew the ash over Pompeii. But the ballista of rock, bolder and pebble blanketed both cities—causing panic.
Like St Helens, it was a normal day to start. Then BOOM! Pompeii was going about its day normally as every day. People marketing, eating, laughing.
In Herculaneum however this day was a special day at the gymnasium where a sporting event was taking place. This is what is left of that day, the fountain that spewed over the swimmers in that competition. While the skies were turning black with ash in Pompeii, that was not so in Herculaneum. Panic had take place and people there were racing to board galleys to get away. Pliny the Elder watched from Miscenium and sent more galleys to rescue people but he could not get them to Pompeii.
So people raced to the beachfront. (remember- this was beach front)
Eventually, galleys could not get into land because the water was thickly overlaid with floating lava rocks. So those left behind hid in the fisherman huts on the left, thinking they would simply survive this storm until it ended. However they did not.
After several pyroclastic flows later, they were boiled alive here (Look closer at the picture of a skull that I took.)
These flows pushed the beach front back four acres and left the wall that I was standing on and that you will walk into this ancient resort town of Herculaneum and look down onto what remains.
Look again at the first big picture. The city of Ercolano once unknowingly sits above the remains of Herculaneum and behind that to your right is Vesuvius, as I said, alive and well.
Oh, I did have fun writing Threatened Loyalties set in Herculaneum and imaging going everywhere possible in this city before it was destroyed. I walked these streets and I hoped to take you along with me. It was fun…yet horrible.