Iowa Martins in Albania

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Somewhere back in my childhood, I had heard of Pompeii. I had this dim memory of something about a volcano burying a city. The associated image was one of people dashing out of their wooden houses wearing flimsy sandals running head-long down the slope in front of a wall of steaming lava. I've always thought it would be cool to see it. Before we left Albania, someone told me that I could download a walking tour of Pompeii. Since I listen to my iPod all the time, I decided to try it. Maxim also loves to listen to my podcasts. While we listen to NPR's Story of the Day, he might pipe up with, "What's Voodoo?" His favorite show is Car Talk; I'm sure their humor is very nearly on the third-grade level, so it's a perfect match. On the way to Pompeii, we ended up listening to the entire 90-minute walking tour twice. That made us exceptionally ready to see the sights once we got to Pompeii. We were ready—no European Vacationers in this family.
In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius, a previously dormant volcano, erupted for 30 hours, showering the surrounding countryside with up to 30 feet of ash. The residents didn't die from a lava flow, but from suffocation. I'm not sure why people were caught so suddenly. I guess the ash must have been falling over an enormous area and it was impossible to escape it. Some died in terribly contorted shapes. A cool thing is the manner in which plaster casts of the bodies were made. When the city was discovered in the 19th century, the ash had solidified while the bodies of the people, and some dogs, had disintegrated leaving a hole in ash the outlined their shape perfectly. Plaster was then poured in the hole and the shape was created.

If you would like to see Maxim's writing about the trip, go to:

These guys are holding up the cieling of the bath house.

Here is the arena.

A great picture of the infamous mountain. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Oskar modeling a statue.

This is a lunch counter. At the time, poor people didn't have kitchens so they all ate at lunch counters.

The thing I can't understand is how these people were trapped in such dramatic positions. If ashes were falling for 30 hours, wouldn't they have had time to run away? I guess the ash was falling over such a wide area, and the ash was so thick that people couldn't run fast nor far enough, and the ashes just clogged their windpipe.

These are the remnants of people who were buried in the ashes.

"Beware of dog" mosaic


  • Pyroclastic flow is what probably killed everybody so quickly. It travels very fast and is unbeliveably hot so it eats up all of the oxigen and kills you.

    Tell Maxim that my favorite radio show is also Car Talk. Clik and Clak the Tappet brothers make me laugh.

    By Blogger charlie1, at Friday, 12 February, 2010  

  • Pat and Brad and I were in Pompeii a few years ago and saw these same things. It was a highlight of the trip for me. P

    By Blogger pmartin7380, at Friday, 12 February, 2010  

  • Finally had a minute to view this post. It seems silly now, but I always thought those bodies frozen in time were lava covered stone figures, not plaster casts.

    Our family also likes Car talk.

    By Blogger jobanneh, at Monday, 08 March, 2010  

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