PASQUALE SORRENTINO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PASQUALE SORRENTINO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Villa of Mysteries at Pompeii, Italy. The villa contains extensive frescoes representing a mystery ritual scene of a woman's initiation to marriage. The villa dates from the second century BC. Pompeii was a flourishing town of some 20,000 inhabitants when it was destroyed by the eruption of the nearby volcano 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. The entire site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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