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Smoking ruins, 1900

Smoking ruins, 1900
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Haunting postcards of Pompei reveal more about its tragedy than any modern day photograph can

Bibek Bhattacharya
April 05 , 2014
Less than 1 Min Read

Who doesn’t like postcards, even in this day and age of virtual reality? It would seem that postcards have been quite a rage for over 100 years now, as these ones from Pompei suggest. These cards of unknown provenance are usually in the keeping of enthusiasts in Europe and America. Although we don’t know much about them, these haunting images of the site of probably the world’s best known natural disaster reveal more about its tragedy than any modern colour photograph can ever reveal.

The aerial shot of the ancient city perfectly shows the sheer site of the settlement, while the sombre ruins of the Tempio di Giove or the Temple of Jupiter broods with the city’s bête noire, Vesuvius, in the background. Probably the most poignant of the lot is the Casa di Panza. The broken masonry and pillars of this house of some Roman worthy called Panza must have been a grand place once. All that’s standing are these pillars with the smoking funnel of Vesuvius in the rear, a menacing presence.


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