The archaeological site of Pompeii
Pompeii, one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world, is an exceptional open book on the ancient Roman civilization. The rain of ash and lapilli produced by the terrible eruption in 79 AD, formed a blanket that kept almost intact public buildings, temples, theatres, thermal baths, shops and private homes. The excavations, started by Charles III of Bourbon in 1748, have brought to light the town after more than sixteen centuries, returning the remains of some of the two thousand victims at the moment when the fury of Vesuvius took them by surprise: men and women in escape, kids, a dog tied to the chain and also gladiators chained to prevent escape or suicide. From plaster casts can be inferred that death occurred as a result of gas dispersed in the air by the eruption. Then incandescent ash and lapilli covered the city. Where there was one of the busiest and most splendid Roman centres, life stopped forever. The thick layer of eruptive material that submerged it, consisting largely of ash and lapilli - hard material not unlike the one that covered Herculaneum and that solidifies into hard stone - has meant that the city retained to this day not only its architecture, but also everything that was inside the buildings. The excavated city constitutes an exceptional historical evidence of Roman civilization and of the tragedy that was consumed in a few hours. Most of the recovered artifacts (statues, frescoes, mosaics, simple furnishings of daily use), is now kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples and in the Antiquarium of Pompeii, not currently open to the public. In the first decade of the new millennium, Pompeii was constantly visited by over two million people a year, and it was found to be in 2013 the second Italian site for number of visitors, with 2,457,051 people and with a total gross income of 20,337. 340.30 Euro (preceded only by the museum system of Rome including the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill). In 1997, in order to preserve the integrity and emphasize its importance, the ruins, now owned by the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae, along with those of Herculaneum and Oplontis, have become part of UNESCO World Heritage List.
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