COPY 1/497 Mount Vesuvius

Look at document COPY 1/497.

  • Describe the scene in this photograph.
  • What are the people looking at? What is the photographer looking at?
  • Are there any clues to help us date this photograph?

The photograph was taken in 1906 from the railway station of Pompeii in Italy. It shows tourists watching Vesuvius erupting.

Pompeii had been an ancient Roman city, and a popular summer holiday destination for rich Romans. Fruits and vines grew well in the dark rich earth there. In AD 79, Vesuvius famously erupted, killing many of the residents of this city and burying the buildings under layers of ash.

There were many further eruptions (including the major eruption of 1631 depicted in the map you looked at earlier). From the mid-18th century, the lost city of Pompeii began to be excavated and became a very popular tourist destination.

People loved the idea of travelling back in time and seeing what a Roman city looked like. Railways made it possible for more people to visit historic sites such as Pompeii because travel was cheaper than by horse and carriage.

  • Why do you think Pompeii has attracted so many tourists over the years?
  • Have you ever visited a historic site? What did you like about it? What did you learn about it? How was it different from just reading about it in a book or on the internet?