To give you an example of how far the study of this site has come, the following is part of a report I wrote in '09. “It started at about one o’clock, August of 79 A.D. At this time it was lunch for the people of Pompeii. That’s when they heard a loud sound. Mt. Vesuvius had erupted. From it came ash and volcanic stone that stretched for miles. It started out as a light drizzle of ash, but before long, the people could not even see one foot in front of them. The debris of the volcano began to accumulate “at the rate of six inches the hour.” It may not seem like a lot, but in time, as it was falling on the houses of citizens, the weight of the ash became to great and caused the roofs to come crashing down. It wasn’t before long that the entire city was covered in 12 inches of debris. At 6:30 am of August the 25th the city of Pompeii was filled with poisonous gas suffocating, killing, all of its people.”
I wrote this one year before we really began to look at what really did happen. What is really amazing is that they died in the fraction of a second. I believe any longer and we would not have been left with the body casts. For example, when cremating a dead body the temperature of 1400 degrees is needed, but kept at a constant for 2 1/2 hours. The ash and heat that happened to Pompeii was for 8 1/2 hours. Also, if the bodies were not killed (there is no other way of saying it), in half a second, they would have indeed suffered.
Although, even if many people were killed, the eruption could have been a blessing in disguise for those who found it. If Pompeii didn’t experience that disaster, would any of its artifacts, any of its traditions, have lasted the test of time? I don’t think the majority of what was preserved would have made it. In spite of this terrible tragedy, it gave us a glimpse into the past. Into the past that was Pompeii.