Excavated ruins from the ancient city of Pompeii, buried in meters of ash and volcanic rock after the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD (background). An estimated 10,000 people were killed, wiping out the entire city in one catastrophic swoop. Pompei was lost for more than 1500 years, lying undiscovered until 1599. Because of the lack of exposure to air and moisture, their bodies were found in the exact positions in which they died, some of them fetal and others of them clamoring for safety. But also in these ruins is clear evidence of an active, thriving 1st century Roman town, complete with an amphitheater, a temple, baths, a forum, gymnasium and a complex water system. The site is elaborate and astonishingly well-preserved.