A GuidetoStudyingTheCities of VesuviusPompeii and HerculaneumHouse of the VetPompeii and Herculaneum1Geographical context the physical environment: the geographical setng, natural features and resources of Pompeii and Herculaneum 1
Physical environment:oPompeii and Herculaneum lie at the mouth of the Sarno River in the southern Italian region of Campania.oThe region was described by Florus as “the finest in the world”.oTo the north of Pompeii and the north-east of Herculaneum lies Mt Vesuvius, the active volcano responsible for the destruction in AD79.oTo the east of Pompeii and Herculaneum are the Apennine Mountains, a mountain range which stretches down the centre of Italy. oThe ancient city of Pompeii covers an area of 66 hectares and about three quarters of it has been successfully excavated. oPompeii and Herculaneum were covered in an approximate seven metre layer of volcanic ashand pumice.oPompeii is 22km southeast of Naples and Herculaneum is about 8km south of NaplesBoth Pompeii and Herculaneum are situated on the coast of Italy, in the plain known today as Campania. This coastal plain is framed by the Lattari Mountains and the Apennine Mountains. The River Sarnus (now known as Sarno) flows through the plain into the Bay of Naples. Mount Vesuvius dominates Campania and has changed shape and size over thousands of years. The region around this volcano is geologically unstable. Geographical setting:oBoth Pompeii and Herculaneum are ancient Roman archaeological sites located in the south-west of modern Italy. oThe sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are on the western coastline of the Italian peninsula.oThe ancient site of Pompeii lies 20km south-east of modern day Naples.oModern Pompeii lies 2km from the coast and the ancient site of Pompeii, due to the eruptionof AD79.oHerculaneum lies on the coast of the Bay of Naples and north of Mt. Vesuvius.oThe city of Resina-Ercolano was built above the ancient buried site of Herculanuem and has inhibited the excavation process over the centuries.Natural Features and ResourcesoTo the south of Pompeii is the river Sarno, which is a broad navigable river which contributedto Pompeii’s intense commercial activity by the 1stCentury AD.2
oAt the foot of Mt. Vesuvius was a fertile plain of phosphorous and potash. oThe soil under Vesuvius produced crop yields six times greater than those from the rest of Italy. oThe main agricultural products of Pompeii and Herculaneum were olive oil, wine and aquaculture.oThe main industries from primary produce included sheep products, millstones, fish sauce (garum), perfume and cloth dye. Mount Vesuvius dominates the landscape of Campania, with its layer of rich volcanic soil ideal for agriculture, particularly vineyards. Crops, including wheat and barley, cabbages, chickpeas, dates andolives were all grown in the local area. Mount Vesuvius contributed to the fertility of the region because of the ash and lava which created the rich volcanic soil.
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