Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pompeii: The Underbelly of the Ruins

By Bethany Youngblood

Photo: Sophie Hay (http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/author/sarahhay/)

We know that Pompeii was the site of one of the most memorable losses of life in the ancient world. But was it merely a natural disaster without cause? Could a literal writing on the wall shed light on what this doomed culture was like before it was buried alive? Is it possible that their own actions brought on the consequence of judgment just like the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah?

Intro to Pompeii


Greek mythology speaks of the legendary Hercules and his battle against giants amidst fire.[1] Supposedly, generations later, the Greeks built a settlement under the shadow of the mountain where that battle took place. They named it Herculaneum in honor of this event. Another nearby town was named Pompeii, to celebrate the victory of Hercules. Pompeii later came under the influence of Rome and flourished with extensive building projects; it became an exclusive seaside playground for the elite. Fertile farmland, naval trade, exquisite villas, and wealth blessed the 10,000 residents of the city.[2] Pompeii had reached its golden era. But these citizens slept at the foot of a deadly mountain. Even with over a decade of warnings in the form of earthquakes, from A.D. 62 to 79, they were not persuaded them to abandon their seaside paradise.[3]

Early in the morning on August 24th, A.D. 79, the citizens were awakened by one final warning. Fire and smoke spat up out of the mountain until noon, when the destructive force of Vesuvius at last broke through. The explosion launched a cloud of pumice over 27 miles into the sky[4] and began to rain down ash on Pompeii. Hours later another explosion carried the ash even higher. Buildings in Pompeii began to buckle under the weight of layers of volcanic debris. People became trapped and unable to escape. Before midnight the cloud of ash fell in a smash of heat, making Pompeii into a literal oven for the population trapped inside.

The remains of the people and their city stopped in time were only brought back to light in A.D. 1755. For children, the story of the people of Pompeii being buried alive in ash is frightening enough. But an unpleasant underbelly has been discovered in these ruins, and it should grab the attention of us all.

Origin of a Word: Pornography


Porn. This one word can have a host of negative connotations in our society today. It is connected to several different forms of sexual behavior. But the word did not always have the implications that it does for us today. Pornography is a word made up of two Greek words. It combines porni (“prostitute”) and graphein (“to write”)[5]. By this definition, pornography was anything that illustrated the life of a prostitute. However, when Pompeii was excavated, some new definitions were added to the word.

In homes, in bathhouses, and even on public walls were images of pornographos[6]; the depictions of prostitutes in the selling of their wares. Besides these, there were other depictions that the Victorians of the time labeled “obscene”, and they were correct to do so. Adding obscene to the list of definitions for pornography meant that the illustrations on the walls now included the taboo, the disgusting, and the unnatural.[7] But for the residents of Pompeii these images were nestled in alongside beautiful landscapes and every day advertisements, to be seen by the wealthiest of men to the lowliest of slaves. They were as normal for the people of Pompeii as images of popular sodas are for us.

The Writing on the Wall – Sodom and Gomorrah


But not everyone was at ease with these images. It is speculated that some in the city of Pompeii saw these things and made a poignant connection between the images and the practices of two other cities known for the judgment brought down on them from heaven: Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis 19. These two cities were known in the Old Testament for committing grave sin: they practiced gross sexual immorality, (Genesis 19:4-5; Jude 7), they were prideful, wealthy and prosperous yet didn’t care for the needy (Ezekiel 16:49-50), their speech and deeds were against the Lord and they brought evil upon themselves (Isaiah 3:8-9). God judged them by raining down brimstone and fire over the cities to destroy them. They became an example and a reminder throughout the Bible of God’s judgment upon wickedness.

In an excavation of Pompeii, an inscription was found on the walls of “House 26”. The etching was scarcely visible to the naked eye, but the meaning was very important. It read, “Sodom and Gomorrah rah.”[8] These words were likely etched into the stone by someone who came upon the devastation left after the eruption. Because of the Biblical reference to the judgment of sinful cities, scholars speculate the writer was a Jew.[9]

http://members.bib-arch.org/bswb_graphics/BSBA/36/04/BSBA360406532.jpg

Did God Judge Pompeii?


It is obvious by the inscription that someone who saw the destruction thought God judged Pompeii. In their mind Pompeii was on the same level as Sodom and Gomorrah and it deserved its judgment. The Bible clearly states that God is sovereignly at work in every nation around the world, in every era of history.

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. (1 Chronicles 29:11)

For the LORD Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth. (Psalm 47:2)

"Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?" (Isaiah 43:13)

It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings. (Daniel 2:21)

God is sovereign. He is just. He always desires man to turn from their sin and seek Him in repentance. Unfortunately our history is filled with nations who continually rejected His commands and sought their own pleasure instead.

So was the eruption a judgment from God? The sheer availability and exposure to sexual immorality in Pompeii is staggering. (We have only scratched the surface in the space of this article.) And it does seem like there is a connection because Sodom and Gomorrah and Pompeii were all destroyed with fire from heaven. But we cannot say with certainty that the devastation of Pompeii was a direct judgment from God due to their sin. We inhabit a broken, cursed world that has been rocked by natural disasters since the days of the Flood. We are prone to sometimes call those disasters judgment, but they are also part of the reality of this fallen world. (Many other cities have been buried and destroyed by volcanic eruptions – read our series on the Minoans for another example.)  But whether the eruption of Vesuvius was divine “judgment” or merely the movement of tectonic plates, God was still aware and involved
           
If the concept of God sending judgment upon a city disturbs you, remember Romans 1:28: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” In Romans 2:2, Paul reminds us that “the judgment of God falls rightly on those who practice such things”.  He goes on to say that for those who do evil and disobey God there will be wrath and fury, tribulation and distress – all as judgment from God, if not in this life, it will surely come “on the day of wrath when God’s judgment will be revealed” (2:5). (The Old Testament has many examples of God judging the nations for their sin – see page 38-39 of The Secrets of Ancient Man for a great chart outlining several of these examples.)

Pompeii was the site of one of the most tragic losses of life in the ancient world. Many deaths could have been avoided if the citizens had heeded the warnings of the earthquakes and maybe if they had repented and turned to God (Romans 1 tells us that everyone knows God and all are without excuse). Looking at the underbelly of the ruins has shed light on the city that once thrived in the now quiet streets. But the writing on the wall points to a culture consumed with seeking and attaining earthly pleasures. These pursuits can never truly satisfy and one way or another, they lead only to destruction. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, Pompeii met its end in fire.

https://peripateticbone.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/streets-c.jpg

Our own culture doesn’t sound all that different from the wickedness we described in these ancient cities. Can we learn from the destruction of these places? Will we heed the reminder that sin leads to death? Will we recognize the warning quakes for what they are – maybe it’s time for us to wake up and flee our own sin and immorality before it’s too late!








[1] Cartwright, Mark. “Pompeii”. Ancient History Encyclopedia. 17 Nov. 2012. Web.          
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Jenkins, John Phillips. “Pornography”. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.
[6] “pornography”. Online Etymology Dictionary. Web.
[7] Robinson, Sarah L. (2010) "Defining Pornography," Social Sciences Journal: Vol. 10: Iss. 1, Article 15. Available at: h p://repository.wcsu.edu/ssj/vol10/iss1/15
[8] Shanks, Hershel. “The Destruction of Pompeii – God’s Revenge?”. Bible History Daily.
[9] Ibid

Monday, February 29, 2016

Babel in the Backyard

In the wake of the publishing of The Secrets of Ancient Man the Ancient Man Team is gearing up for round three in the ancient man series! We're excited about the addition of new team members and the new research we have already uncovered and started to sift through. To give you a little glimpse into what we are up to these days, check out what one of our researchers has to say about joining the team...


Monday, February 1, 2016

An Ancient Man Surprise...

By Don Landis

Pastor Don Landis is the general editor of both The Genius of Ancient Man and The Secrets of Ancient Man. On a recent trip down to an Answers in Genesis board meeting, Don and his wife Bev stumbled across an unexpected ancient man site...


"On our way to the Answers in Genesis board meeting in October we stopped by Minneapolis to visit our granddaughter and her husband.

One night on the way we stayed at a motel in Luverne, Minnesota.  When checking in we noticed a large photograph capturing a scene of a fence-line of rocks.  I read the caption and was surprised to read that it said these rocks line up with solstice!

We learned that the fence of rocks was located in Blue Mounds State Park in the southwest corner of Rock County, Minnesota and only about a mile and a half from where we stayed.

The park preserves the 1250-foot-long (almost a quarter mile)  line of rocks aligned by the Plains Indians which marks where the sun rises and sets on the spring and fall equinoxes[1].

Solstice and equinoxes are an important astronomical alignments and all over the world, ancient man has aligned countless structures to sunrise on these dates. We believe this commonality is an evidence of the scattering of the religion that may have started at the Tower of Babel.

On the heels of the publishing of our second book, we have already assembled a new Ancient Man team that is meeting and doing research on anomalies, out of place artifacts (ooparts) and ancient man evidence right here in the United States.

So far our research is overwhelming! There are hundreds of sites! 

The Bible continues to be confirmed by the team research showing the intelligence and commonality of ancient man not only in distant places around the world but here in the U.S. as well.  I know you will be looking forward to seeing for yourself the results of the research and collection of data by our team at Jackson Hole Bible College.

God's word is true, He created man in His image (intelligence included) and Babel really existed and was scattered by God (commonality of cultures all over the world) and it is exciting to be finding the evidence right in our back yard!"

Have you found any interesting ancient man sites near you? We'd love to hear about them and add them to our list! Let us know in the comments or send us an email! 


Read about more solstice-alignment and archeoastronomy: 



[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mounds_State_Park.