The city of Pompeii was buried by Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago. And yet something there may sound very familiar to us today: the community had a pretty elaborate recycling system. Plus: why staff at the Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo are encouraging people to video chat with their eels.

Did the Ancient Pompeiians Invent Recycling? New Research Suggests They Used Trash to Build City Walls (and Much More) (Artnet)

Japanese aquarium urges public to video-chat eels who are forgetting humans exist (The Guardian)

Back Cool Weird Awesome on Patreon for just $1 a month!

If you look at history long enough you’ll see something that looks very familiar.

Researchers have been looking at the remains of the ancient Roman community of Pompeii, covered up by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79, and they’ve found evidence that Pompeii had a pretty elaborate system of recycling.

Humans have been digging into the ruins at Pompeii for a couple hundred years, and understandably their attention has largely gone toward the people found there, along with their houses and shops, their artwork and theaters. The signs of civilization.

But they’ve also known for quite a while that on the outskirts of the city, just beyond the walls, were large piles of what looked like trash.

Researchers concluded these were the ancient equivalents of today’s landfills.

The people of Pompeii were putting their garbage out the same way we do.

But more recently, research teams have looked at those piles again, in particular, at materials like ceramic and plaster.

They found old tiles and broken pieces of pottery were being used to build new walls, just covered over with extra plaster to make the walls look more consistent.

So the researchers came to a new conclusion: those rubbish piles weren’t trash meant to be taken away, they were piles of old material that were to be sorted, re-sold, and reused, rather than thrown out and wasted.

Pretty clever, there, Pompeii.

A lot of us are using video chats to keep in touch with family members, friends, coworkers, and classmates, and/or to remotely record songs for charity events on TV.

But here’s one function of video chats you might not expect: staff at the Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo are encouraging people to video chat with their eels.

Without humans to visit the aquarium, the eels are, as they put it, starting to forget humans, so they don’t pop their heads up when the staff comes by.

That makes it harder to do regular checks on their health and well-being.

So, like so many others these days, they’re turning to video chats to get the little creatures their regular does of human contact.

Would it be weird if you added an aquarium background to your screen for one of those chats?