Surely you have heard of the famous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD that destroyed the city of Pompeii. Pompeii is undoubtedly one of the main archaeological parks to visit in Italy but do you know all the secrets that Pompeii hides?
In this article we will present you 5 curiosities that you probably did not know about Pompeii.
Eroticism and prostitution in Pompeii
Prostitution is commonly known as the oldest profession in history. Roman Pompeii was a free city, open to prostitution and brothels, so that until today you can see the remains of the "lupanares" places in which this profession was performed. Lupanar was the Latin word for brothel, in Pompeii around 35 lupanares were found which confirm the freedom of the profession. These rooms can be easily recognized thanks to its famous erotic paintings that decorate the walls. On the walls it was common to find graffiti with messages such as the name of the prostitute, her services and even customer testimonials. Like the lupanares, the phalluses engraved on the stones are also very famous since they guided the client to the brothel or the proximity of it.
Prostitution at that time was fully regulated and to exercise this profession, prostitutes had to obtain the “licentia stupri”. The point of this job was to control men who could destabilize the Roman family, since having sexual relations with a prostitute did not constitute adultery. In the same way, this profession indirectly generated employment for the figure of the "Alipalarius", who was in charge of waxing all the ladies of that time.
Erotic Art in Pompeii - Gabinetto Segreto
The Gabinetto segreto is located inside the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. This section of the museum houses the collection of erotic art from Pompeii and Herculaneum that were found in the excavations and were considered at that time as pornographic and not suitable for public knowledge, among these were several erotic frescoes and the image of Priapus god of fertility. When King Francis I of Naples visited the Pompeii exhibition in 1819, he felt ashamed. This resulted in the creation of this secret cabinet, accessible only to people of mature age.
First volcanic eruption with written evidence
Detailed written statements are known thanks to Plinio the Younger, a 17 years old Roman administrator who lived in the Villa of his uncle Plinio the Elder a few kilometers from the explosion. From this villa Plinio you could observe the eruption that caused the volcano from afar. In his letters he wrote up his experience and described the immense screen of smoke and ash that rose above the skies. He described the panic of the villagers and the attempt of his uncle and others to save the inhabitants of Pompeii without any success. This document with great historical value was found in the 16th century and is still preserved.
A unique testimony of the ancient Roman Life
Due to the layers of ash and pumice stone, the objects were buried and well preserved over the centuries due to lack of air and humidity. This was an excellent testimony of Roman life at that time and gave us a clear idea of how the Romans spent their days. During the excavations, archaeologists used plaster to fill in the gaps between the ashes and maintained the position that the bodies of the inhabitants had left before they died. In total, more than 1,500 corpse casts have been found, including entire families, friends, children and couples who died hugging in their sleep.
Vesuvius is still active
The Vesuvius Volcano has an estimated age of 17,000 years and is still the only active volcano in Continental Europe. This volcano has been dormant for more than 70 years, but scientists estimate that an eventual eruption could affect millions of people who live around the city.
All this and much more you can discover with our Pompei private tour.