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Questions about Greece and Rome

How was Pompeii excavated (the tools used, the method, and who first discovered it)?

Dr. dig responds:
Pompeii was first discovered by looters looking for Roman treasures in the 16th and 17th century. Pompeii was first properly excavated by an Italian archaeologist named Guiseppe Fiorelli (1823-1896). He was deeply interested in the everyday lives of the people who had once lived in this long-buried city and he painstakingly excavated the remains of houses and streets layer by layer. He was one of the first archaeologists to excavate an ancient site according to the stratigraphy - the way the past piles up layer upon layer over time. He used local laborers to do the digging with whatever tools were on hand: shovels, picks and wheel barrows.

fiorelli also developed a method of pouring plaster into cavities in the ash that had buried Pompeii when Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79 and subsequently hardened. when the plaster set and the surrounding ash was removed, Fiorelli was left with a cast of the shape of the cavity itself. The shapes were often instantly recognizeable as organic material that had decayed after the ash had engulfed it - bodies of humans and animals, furniture and wooden structures. Fiorelli's casts had recereated the external appearance of these things down to the last detail!

Pompeii is still being excavated today. You can read more about the discoveries at Pompeii in dig Magazine or log on to Archaeology Magazine's website and SEARCH for Pompeii.


I am doing an oral report on Pompei, and was wondering if you could provide me with any additional information and or pictures.

Dr. dig responds:
I can't do your homework for you, but I can tell you that your library will have loads of fantastic books on Pompeii with wonderful pictures that will fire up your imagination. What a great topic to study. You will also find more stuff about Pompeii on the web. Check out Archaeology Magazine's Classical links which will take you to Pompeii. I would suggest going to the Anglo-American Project in Pompeii's website as well as the Pompeii in Pictures website.

I have not actually done any digging at Pompeii myself, but I know people who have and I have visited this famous Roman town that was destroyed by a volcano in 79 A.D.

(Posted by reader) I live near Pompei (that is the Italian spelling by the way, folks in America spell it Pompeii). I have visited it twice now. Once with my parents and once with my grandparents. If you want a really cool book to read about Pompei, then read, The Buried City of Pompeii by Shelley Tanaka. It has real pictures and a made-up story about what actually happened. I loved it.


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