Volcanoes, Lava and Buried Towns

Volcanoes, Lava and Buried CitiesVolcanoes are natural phenomena whose power and devastation mankind has never been able to avoid. There have been throughout history several well known examples of ancient cities and of towns from the relatively recent past, mostly destroyed and buried under the lava of erupted volcanoes.

Of course, speaking on that topic, the first to come to our mind is the ancient Roman city of Pompeii near today’s city of Naples in Italy. The eruption of the nearby Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 AD (during the reign of Titus) totally destroyed and buried Pompeii and Herculaneum and damaged severely the surrounding villages and villas around the Bay of Naples. They were buried under 6-metre layers of ash, stone and lava killing thousands of citizens. After the volcano eruption the site was forgotten and lost for around 1500 years before the first rediscoveries started. Nowadays it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world most famous tourist attractions in Italy keeping a record of the ancient Roman city. By the way, if you’ve not still watched the 2014 movie about Pompeii and the love between Cassia and Milo, here is the trailer.

Long before that tragedy another even more ancient settlement than Pompeii, was totally destroyed. The Theran eruption of 1627 BC caused the devastation of the Minoan Bonze Age settlement of Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini (known also as Thíra or Thera). Like Pompeii, ash preserved a living record of the complex as well as a lot of frescoes, artworks, artifacts and even some-story buildings of that time. Nowadays the excavation site (a proposito, it is named after the nearby, modern Greek village since the name of the ancient town itself is unknown) is among the numerous tourist attractions on the island of Santorini.

There are some more “recent” examples of villages buried by volcanoes, one of them being the village of Te Wairoa in New Zealand. It had a similar destiny like the two ancient cities when on June 10, 1886 Mt Tarawera erupted and killed more than 100 people, both Maori and Europeans. The excavation site with the ruins is open to public and the relics found are on display. It is a must-see attraction during a visit to Rotorua in New Zealand.


3 thoughts on “Volcanoes, Lava and Buried Towns

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