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The Pompeii Coverup and the Problem with Mount Rainier

While digging a canal, excavators uncover strange statues and walls that include frescos that were once part of the ancient city of Pompeii that was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79. The architect, Domenico Fontana, inspects the ancient frescos and has them covered over again... probably because the art was of a sexual nature. Another excavation of the ancient city of Pompeii will not take place until 1748 when various sites will be dug up for their souvenir art. A methodical and more serious excavation will begin in 1806 when French scholars are brought in. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Pompeii is best known for the ash-covered bodies found at the excavation. It looks as if people were caught in mid-step and their bodies preserved where they fell. Pliny the Elder had ordered his ships into the harbor to evacuate the city. The shouts of men and the cries of women and infants could be heard as a black cloud poured into the city. No one escaped. What was described is a pyroclastic surge or flow. These hot collections of gas and rock can overwhelm a region like an avalanche and travel for miles. Mount Saint Helens produced such a flow and it is feared that when Mount Rainier in Washington state finally erupts, the glacier will melt, causing a flow of volcanic mud that will bury the city of Tacoma and everything between. Seattle might survive. Only time will tell. [5] [6]

The Dutch East India Company and the Power to Do Good and Evil *

A new company has been set up to compete with the Portuguese pepper trade in India. Trading in spice from India is big business and the Dutch want to be part of it. So do the English. Unfortunately this particular Dutch company won't make much money. It's just too small. Sailing from Holland to India is a dangerous business even setting aside the little detail that Spain is at war with the Dutch Republic. Eventually this company will consolidate with several others into a larger and more successful company. At first it will be called the United East India Company. They will be the first to issue stock in a publicly held company. In time it will change it's name to the more recognizable Dutch East India Company. [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Dutch East India Company will become a semi-governmental organization with the power to start a war, execute the guilty and negotiate treaties. They will do good, such as the founding of New Amsterdam... otherwise known as New York City. They will do bad... such as the founding of New York City. The concentration of power in a massive entity can do massive good, but when it does bad it can be massively bad. The Founders of the United States created a government where power is distributed with the most power left at the local level. But over the years we have convinced ourselves that we can control the massive power of the state to do only good. We are mature enough and smart enough, smarter than our Founders. We have seen the massive good done, yet we have also seen the massive bad. Are we done yet? Apparently not.

Their First Polar Bear Gets Iced

The Dutch Republic is trying to get to China without running into the Portuguese along the way. (There is a war going on after all.) Captain William Barentsz is commissioned to find the Northwest passage around North America but so far all he can find are polar bears. When one bear tries to climb aboard his ship he wounds it with a musket shot. His crew nets the bear and drags it on board thinking they are going to love a live polar bear back home in Holland but it is not to be. The bear will not be contained. It rampages across the deck and must be put down. [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
For the nature lovers out there, his crew also tried to hack to death a herd of 200 walruses for their tusks. The walruses wouldn't sit still for that so they were not very successful. The voyages were considered a success despite never reaching China. The Barents Sea was named in Willem Barentsz' honor in 1853 and he remains a legendary hero in the Netherlands for his rough adventures across ice and sea.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1594, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Bowersock, G. W. (October 1978). The Rediscovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii. The American Scholar. 47. The Phi Beta Kappa Society. pp. 461-470. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41210458. "That as far as can be the of was, told, beginning excavation at and without the of Accursio in Pompeii, scholarly the sixteenth diligence and an in accidental the century discovery nineteenth we should never have known about it.". 
  2. Resurrecting Pompeii. Smithsonian Magazine (February 2006). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “Early excavators didn't much care where a particular statue or mosaic fragment had been found and what stories might be coaxed from them. By contrast, 'Pompeii: Stories from an Eruption' employs archaeological techniques to link artifacts to the lives of the people who once lived with them.”
  3. Ancient History in depth: Pompeii: Its Discovery and Preservation. BBC History (2011 February 17). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “During the first phase, the excavation was carried out essentially in order to find art objects. Many artefacts considered suitable for the private collection of the Bourbon king Charles III (reigned 1759-88) were removed, and transported to Naples - where they remain to this day, displayed in the Museo Nazionale.”
  4. Pompeii - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “After thick layers of ash covered the two towns, they were abandoned and eventually their names and locations were forgotten. The first time any part of them was unearthed was in 1599, when the digging of an underground channel to divert the river Sarno ran into ancient walls covered with paintings and inscriptions. The architect Domenico Fontana was called in; he unearthed a few more frescoes, then covered them over again, and nothing more came of the discovery.”
  5. Mount St. Helens - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “This volcano is well known for its ash explosions and pyroclastic flows.”
  6. Mount Rainier - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, and it is on the Decade Volcano list.[7] Because of its large amount of glacial ice, Mt. Rainier could potentially produce massive lahars that could threaten the entire Puyallup River valley.”
  7. Compagnie van Verre - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “It was set up in 1594 by nine citizens of Amsterdam, to break Portugal's monopoly on the pepper trade.”
  8. Dutch East India Company - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “Between 1602 and 1796 the VOC sent almost a million Europeans to work in the Asia trade on 4,785 ships, and netted for their efforts more than 2.5 million tons of Asian trade goods.”
  9. Willem Barentsz - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 9 June 2015. “On 9 July, the crew encountered a polar bear for the first time. After shooting it with a musket when it tried to climb aboard the ship, the seamen decided to capture it with the hope of bringing it back to Holland.”
  10. William Barents: A Northeast Route To China. The Mariners' Museum (2015). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “The Dutch were at war with the Spanish and Portuguese and it was difficult to sail southward, passing Spain and around their holdings in Africa.”

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