Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed, and its 20,000 citizens and buildings completely buried, during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in AD 79.
The volcano collapsed roofs and buried Pompeii under 60 feet of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1,700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire.
When I visited in '05 we had a tour guide who called himself Mimmo. He conducted the tour in the persona of a slave who was living in Pompeii at the time of the eruption. He wasn't dressed in costume but just took us through the tour with his narration in the first person. Here's Mimmo:
These were some of the slave quarters. When the excavations got to this area they found bodies of slaves still chained to the walls and in some cases they also discovered bodies of noblewomen with them. The theory was that the women had rushed to the slaves to try to free them during the volcano eruption only to be entombed with them.
In the 1700's when the excavations began they found empty pockets in the rubble and determined that they must have been bodies that had decayed over the centuries. They devised a method to fill those pockets with a plaster mixture and dug the mold out after it dried. Below is one of the bodies. The detail was incredible. You could see the straps on the sandals as well as the belt around the victim's waist.
During my first visit, the sight that most took my breath away were the ruts in the cobblestones made by the cart tracks nearly 2,000 years ago!
Here are some more photos of Pompeii.