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Archaeologys Scientific Exposition of Pompeii - Essay Example

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Historical accounts, fortified by geological data, prove that in, or about, 79 A.D. Vesuvius erupted, destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii and buried it beneath mounds of volcanic dust, debris and molten lava. As explicated by the late archeological scholar and researcher, Professor Merrill, upon the eruption of Vesuvius Pompeii was "overwhelmed by a tremendous river of liquid mud, which appears to have penetrated and filled every nook and cranny of the place, and accumulated to a depth of sixty to seventy feet"(304)…
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Archaeologys Scientific Exposition of Pompeii
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Download file to see previous pages Furthermore, as Professor Milner writes in a second article, the location of Pompeii was confirmed in 1595 when excavations for a new aqueduct unexpectedly led to the discovery of Pompeian coins and artifacts (263-4). However, further excavation was rendered impossible due to the fact that the ancient city was buried deep in molten lava, ash and mud which had hardened into over sixty feet of rock. Over the centuries, the gradual evolution of science and technology enabled not only the excavation of Pompeii but an accurate reading of the volcanic eruption and the history of this ancient people.13
While historical journals have popularly set the date of Vesuvius' eruption and the subsequent destruction of Pompeii at 79 AD, geological and scientific data has not been able to establish this as fact. As the geologists and archeologists, Sigurdsson et al. (1985) explain, the dating of the eruption is ascribed to Pliny the Younger who, as an eyewitness to the event, recorded its occurrence as having taken place on 24th August 79 AD. Science, however, has been incapable of conclusively proving the stated since carbon dating technologies, while relatively precise, provide readings within an acceptable margin of error (89). Hence, while carbon dating of the debris proved the eruption to be at least 2000 years old, it has been unable to conclusively establish it at 79 AD (90). Consequently, for the sake of scientific accuracy, the research shall refer to the eruption as having approximately occurred around 79 AD.
The evolution of excavation tools led to the resumption of efforts to uncover Pompeii in 1755. However, as explicated by the archeologist, Prof. Wilhelmina Jashemski, the excavation soon stalled and was really unable to cover much, both due to the fact that Pompeii was buried deep in hardened lava and mud and because archaeological tools and know-how were, at that time, underdeveloped and incapable of fulfilling the defined task. A second excavation in 1814 had, due to the evolution of archaeological tools, greater success. It was, at least, able to uncover the southern wall of the Pompeii amphitheater (69-70). However, it is necessary to point out that despite the fact that, within the context of the time, the excavation was considered a success, its results were critically limited. As important as the uncovering of the southern section of the wall was, it was hardly capable of allowing archaeologists to uncover the city's culture and history or recreate the eruption.
It was not until the twentieth century that archaeological tools and scientific technology had sufficiently evolved to enable the excavation of this ancient city. By the mid-twentieth century, excavation projects aimed at uncovering the remainder of the amphitheater successfully concluded. Between December 1954 and May 1955, the entirety of the amphitheater was uncovered and the structure that lay beneath the tonnes of hardened mud and lava, held a wealth of information about the city and its culture (Jashemski 69).
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