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Field Trip to Pompeii

This week my seventh grade class is reading about the catastrophic destruction of Pompeii via a letter from Pliny the Younger.*  What better way to make this reading come alive than a field trip to Pompeii?  Easy trip from Texas, right?  Right!  Google maps has the street view of the ruins of Pomeii.  Free trip minus the jet lag. 

1. Go to http://www.google.com/maps
2. Type “Ancient Pompeii” in the search browser
3. Use the zoom function to approach an areas to the lower right of the red A balloon that shows Pompeii. As you get closer to ground level, look for the area that looks like the walls of houses without the roofs. You may see an amphitheater and the outlines of courtyards and forum type areas.
4. If you zoom in all the way it shows you the street view as if you were actually standing and walking through the ruins! (You can also get to the street view by clicking the person-figure above the zoom bar and dragging him to the area you want to visit.) 

This was a wonderful virtual field trip for the students. I used a power projector on the wall to bring them into Pompeii. They walked the streets, looked through windows and doorways of buildings, strolled through courtyards, visited the local eateries, and had a wonderful time. The most eerie moment for me is to walk the street to the forum and see Vesuvius looming in the background.  The victor standing triumphant over the ruins of temples still standing as a testimony to his might.

*Pliny the Younger, who himself experienced the fury of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, describes his escape in a letter written to Tacitus.  An excerpt from this letter appears in chapter 13 of Latin Alive, Book 2, providing a wonderful opportunity for students to read history via the original words of a first hand witness.

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