for almost 2000 years.
Once, Pompeii was a busy city of 22,000 people. It lay the foot of Mount Vesuvius, a grass covered volcano. Mountain Vesuvius had not erupted for centuries, so the people of Pompeii felt safe. But they were not safe.
In August of the year AD 79 Mount Vesuvius erupted. The entire top of the mountain exploded, and a huge black cloud rose into the air. Soon and hot ash began to fall on Pompeii. Then out came a cloud of poisonous gas. When, the eruption ended two days later, Pompeii was buried under 20 feet of stones and ash. Almost all of its people were dead.
Among the dead was a rich man named Diomedes. When the volcano erupted, Diomedes decided not to leave his home. The streets were filled with people who were running and screaming. Diomedes was probably afraid that he and his family would be crushed by the crowd. So Diomedes and his family and their helpers-16 people altogether-took some food and went down to the basement. For hours they waited in the dark, hopping the eruption would end. Then they began to cough. Poisonous gas from the mountain was filling the city.
Diomedes realized that they would have to leave. He took the key to the door, and his helper picked up a lantern. Together they walked upstairs. But that poisonous gas was already filling the house. When they were a few feet from the door, Diomedes and his helper fell to the floor and died. The 14 people downstairs died embracing one another.
For centuries, Diomedes and his family lay buried stones and ash. Then, in the year 1861, an Italian archeologist named Giuseppe Fiorelli began to uncover Pompeii. Slowly, carefully, Fiorelli and his men dug. The city they found looked almost the same as it had looked in the year AD 79. There were steers and fountains, houses and shops. There was a stadium with 20,000 seats. Perhaps important of all, there were many everyday objects. These everyday objects tell us a great deal about the people who lived in Pompeii.