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On August 24, 79 (1,938 years ago), Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed Pompeii, an ancient Roman city near modern day Naples in Italy. The area and its people were buried under 13-20 feet of volcanic ash, and the site was forgotten for 1,500 years until rediscovered in 1599. Proper excavations started in 1748 and continued into the 21st century by several archeologists. Due to the heavy ash and lack of air and moisture, buried objects were amazingly well-preserved, giving a highly detailed look into Roman life in the 1st century.

For the past 250 years, Pompeii has also been a popular tourist destination and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. Unfortunately, the excavated areas of Pompeii have since been exposed to weathering, erosion, light exposure, water damage and other man-made forces — rapidly increasing the deterioration of the site, and making conservation a major priority.

Mount Vesuvius, a somma-stratovolcano (also known as a composite volcano) has erupted many times since destroying Pompeii, and is still considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. 🌋

Image under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license via Flickr