Lost cities #4: Pompeii was preserved by disaster. Now it faces a second extinction

Of all the lost cities in the world, ancient Pompeii is surely the most ‘found’. The volcanic eruption that ruined this Roman city also froze it in time – and now, 2,000 years later, it is alive with people who threaten its existence all over again

Perched high in the gods of the great theatre, you get a good view of the waves of tourists. They enter from left and right, then flow on towards the forum, or the baths, or the lupanar (the brothel) where the explicit, 2,000-year-old wall decorations are such a draw that visitors get pushed in one entrance and out the other with barely enough time to focus the camera lens.

Watching this apparently endless performance, and overhearing excitable talk of Elton John and David Gilmour having played gigs in the giant amphitheatre just a few nights before, it seems reasonable to conclude that the vast ruin of ancient Roman Pompeii must, of all the lost cities in the world, represent the one most found.

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