Pompeii was widely considered to be one of the better places to live in Roman times. The surrounding land was blessed with rich soil, granting six times the normal crop yield, and hosted some of the best olive groves in the empire. The city, meanwhile, was used as a safe port by sailors, who constantly brought in trade goods and stories from afar. Perhaps best of all, every citizen had an unobstructed view of Mount Vesuvius. This amazing volcano was over four thousand feet high, making it truly a sight to be seen.
On August 24th, 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted. Smoke, fire, and heated rocks shot forth from the mouth of the volcano, showering the baleful contents onto the countryside. Surrounding farms and orchards were immediately consumed, and the deadly wave quickly continued on to the city and buried Pompeii under a massive cloud of pumice and ash. Many of the citizens were caught completely unaware, and most appear to have perished instantly. By morbid coincidence, this was also one day after a festival dedicated to the Roman god of fire.
One of the remarkable factors of the disaster is how the sheer force of the ash caused the terrified victims to be frozen where they stood. They became, in essence, human statues, and not the kind that hangs out at your local park. When a team of archeologists dug up the ancient city thousands of years later, they found men and women sitting at their dinner tables, playing dice, sneaking a bottle of wine… This is rather unfortunate for several of the Pompeii citizens, who will now forever be remembered as ‘Timothy the Lush’. As for the rest, they’ll just be known as having had a very bad day.