Pompeii was an ancient Roman city, situated near modern Naples in Italy. The town was founded around the 7th century BC by the Osci people. Centuries of growth followed, as the city became a destination for holiday makers, attracted by the sun and fine coastal scenery. Elegant villas, bustling shops and bathhouses all lined the paved streets.
On 24 August in 79 AD, the nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted. Falling debris and poisonous vapours filled the streets of Pompeii, burying the thriving community under 5 m (16 ft) of ash. 2,000 citizens perished, and what was left of the city was soon abandoned.
Over 1,500 years passed, before an initial discovery in 1599 led to a broader rediscovery in 1748 by the Spanish explorer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. He was amazed to find that underneath a thick layer of dust and debris, the city of Pompeii had been preserved perfectly, due to a lack of air and moisture.
Today, the excavation of Pompeii continues, as we gain an insight into what life was like during the Roman Empire. The city has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and receives 2.5 million tourists every year.