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21 Oct

In some cases, volcanoes offer us a glimpse of the past. The Roman city of Pompeii was completely buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. For two days, the ash and pumice poured from the sky until the entire city and its occupants were buried under between 13 and 20 feet of grey. Ironically, the eruption occurred the day after Vulcanalia, the festival of the Roman God of fire.

The city is so well preserved that we are offered a snapshot of what life was like for the Romans of that time. Graffiti in the streets show us what every day Latin was like. Family portraits hang in houses. Signs above shops show us the clever marketing of the vendors. Dogs on leashes are chained up outside shops. And huddled human figures show us what those last horrifying moments must have been like.