Garden of the Fugitives: Fossilized Victims of the Vesuvius Eruption

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD is one of the most catastrophic and famous eruptions of all time. The explosion of the eruption threw deadly cloud of stones, ash and fumes to a height of 20.5 miles, spewing molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 1.5 million tons per second, ultimately releasing a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima bombing. The city of Pompeii was obliterated by pyroclastic flows and an estimated 16,000 citizens perished in the event.

Centuries later when Pompeii was excavated diggers uncovered decomposed bodies of countless victims. In one place, plaster was poured into the spaces left by decomposed bodies and when the dirt was removed after the plaster had hardened, thirteen adults and children were found huddled together, making futile attempts to shield themselves from the onslaught of volcanic dust, pumice, stone, and ash.

This place, where once stood an ancient orchard, came to be known as the “Garden of the Fugitives” and it offers visitors a frozen glimpse of Pompeii's appalling last hours. The thirteen bodies were of people who were trying to flee the deadly volcanic dust and rocks, which gave the garden its name.

A large number of artifacts and casts from Pompeii are also preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.

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