PASQUALE SORRENTINO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PASQUALE SORRENTINO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Temple of Jupiter ruins at Pompeii, Italy. The volcano Vesuvius is seen in the background. Pompeii was a flourishing town of some 20,000 inhabitants when it was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius on 26th August 79 AD. The eruption buried the town under a thick layer of ash, and it remained undiscovered until 1599. It was not until 1749 that attempts were made to excavate the town, however. The town was very well preserved in the ash, and the excavations revealed a huge amount about daily life at the time. Vesuvius remains active, although as of 2006 there have been no eruptions since 1944.
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