The people kept dogs as pets and guard dogs as we do today. We know they had laws to protect them from cruelty. We know they valued dogs because of the artworks that have been found. We know a lot about the people who lived in the doomed city of Pompeii.
On that fateful summer day in Pompeii in AD 79, we can imagine that no dogs played and no birds sang. Earth tremors had been felt in the city for a long time. Animals, being more in touch with the earth, would have fled the city even as the human inhabitants went about their daily lives--shopping, cooking, cleaning, gardening, building, going to the forum, the bath houses, the brothels...
Although the people knew that Vesuvius, a 6000 foot mountain, loomed nearby, they didn’t know that the fertile soil they enjoyed was volcanic. Vesuvius hadn’t erupted for 1800 years. There was not even a Latin word for volcano.
There were warnings, but the people didn’t understand.
Suddenly Vesuvius erupted in a cloud of volcanic gas, fiery ash and fumes rising to a height of 20 miles and moving at the rate of 1.5 million tons per second toward the doomed city. The eruption lasted for more than 24 hours.
The city was buried under as many as 20 feet of ash, dust and debris. It is believed that as many as two thousand people, one tenth the population, were caught in the cataclysm.
Pompeii remained frozen in time for nearly 1200 years until explorers discovered that under the ash of the volcano eruption the city was mostly intact. Lack of air and moisture allowed objects to remain with little or no deterioration.
Buildings, streets, mosiacs, artifacts, and skeletal remains have given the modern world a great wealth of information about everyday life in the days of the Roman Empire. Bread that was put into ovens and meals that were prepared in AD 79 were discovered hundreds of years later.
Although only skeletal remains were found of humans, their bodies had left a vacancy, air pockets, in the ash. By pouring plaster into the void and chipping away the ash, plaster casts could be made of their final positions.
Like human victims a dog who had been tied up was recreated in plaster. A bronze studded collar with remarkable detail was found on this nameless dog, the most famous dog of the ancient world.