The Missed Signs and Inaction that Led to Pompeii's Demise

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The Missed Signs and Inaction that Led to Pompeii’s Demise Zack Galusha
September 11, 2012

Rome was able to expand its empire across vast distances because of one important aspect—their superior engineering skills. However it is interesting that a society so involved with the advancement of science still took great interest into portents, both good and bad. Therefore, it could be said that the learned individuals of Roman society had the means to decipher phenomena on both a scientific and supernatural level, but the tragedy at Vesuvius was a whole other story; the occupants of Campania were caught completely off guard by the eruption. The principle characters of Pompeii had multiple opportunities to recognize the evidence of their impending demise; however due to their unfamiliarity with volcanic disasters and preoccupiedness with the aqueduct and Vulcanalia, they were unable to identify the real problem before misfortune struck; yet, if Attilius had not been so focused on the aqueduct issue, he could’ve acted differently and yielded a more prosperous outcome for himself and the other doomed inhabitants of Campania. Today scientists have the ability to predict the eruptions of volcanoes; this, however, is only accomplished through the use of multiple tools: seismometers, seismographs, GPS, infrared cameras, among many others. “In the past several decades, our short-term forecasting of large volcanic eruptions has improved by leaps and bounds…short-term usually means hours to days, and rarely a week or more.” This means that even today we can only predict eruptions, days to weeks before. However scientists can still narrow the eruption time longer periods in advance using data they have collected for decades. Now rewind to A.D. 79; indeed the Romans surpassed all other civilizations in technological advancement, but nothing could’ve helped them foresee the oncoming eruption. The fact of the matter was that nobody had...
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