In the Campania area of Italy, close to Naples, was the ancient city of Pompeii. It is known today as the comune of Pompei. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, 4 to 6 metres of volcanic ash and pumice covered Pompei. The Oscans, a group from central Italy, established five towns there in the eighth century BC, marking the beginning of permanent habitation on the location.

Elements of Pompeii was preserved by the volcanic ash giving a glimpse into Roman life. The majority of evidence was lost during the delicate procedure of excavating the site. With a population of 11,000 in AD 79, it was a prosperous town with a number of exquisite public structures and opulent private homes that attracted the early excavators with their expensive furnishings, artwork, and decorations.

The ash contained organic remains, such as wooden artefacts and bodies of the victims. As they withered over time, gaps were left behind that archaeologist’s later discovered could be utilised as moulds to create plaster castings of distinctive figures in their final moments of life.

With over 2.5 million tourists a year, Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Italy.

The absence of air and moisture kept everything buried beneath Pompeii well-preserved for nearly 2,000 years, allowing for minimal to no deterioration. Pompeii, however, was exposed to both natural and man-made factors once it was discovered, which has significantly accelerated decay.

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