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The Streets of Pompeii


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Pompeii Street Sign
Pompeii Street Sign

Pompeii Street Sign

Marieke Kuijjer

Pompeii, a thriving Roman colony in Italy when it was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, is in many respects a symbol of what archaeologists yearn to discover--an intact image of what life was like in the past. But in some respects, Pompeii is dangerous, because although the buildings look intact, they've been reconstructed, and not always carefully. In fact, the rebuilt structures aren't a clear vision of the past at all, but are clouded by 150 years of reconstructions, by several different excavators and conservators.

The streets in Pompeii might be an exception to that rule. Streets in Pompeii were extremely varied, some built with solid Roman engineering and underlain with water conduits; some dirt paths; some wide enough for two carts to pass; some alleys barely wide enough for pedestrian traffic. Let's do a little exploration.

In this first picture, an original goat insignia built into the walls next to a corner has been embellished with a modern street sign.


For more on the archaeology of Pompeii, see Pompeii: Buried in Ashes. Also see the Walking Tour of the House of the Faun.

Beard, Mary. 2008. The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

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