Scientists estimated that on the evening before this fatal outbreak in 79 AD about 20,000 persons lived in Pompeii and its surroundings. Vesuvius has not broken out since 1944, but it is still one of the most perilous volcanos in the underworld. The Plineans expect another outbreak every single working days, an almost inscrutable disaster as nearly 3 million humans reside within 20 nautical mile of the volcano's craters.
Vesuvius did not develop over night, of course. Indeed, scientists say that the hill is several hundred thousand years old and has been erupted for years. Around 1780 B.C., for example, an exceptionally strong explosion (now "Avellino eruption") blew up million tonnes of overheated volcanic rock, dust and cinders.
It was a cataclysmic event that devastated almost every town, home and farmyard within 15 leagues of the mountains. The Pompeii was overcrowded from year to year. I thought I would end with the world," Pliny said, "and the word with me" - but it was not yet deadly: Most Pompeians had enough free escape from it.
Then a" pyroklastic wave" - a 100 miles per hours wave of overheated toxic gases and powdered rocks - shook down the side of the hill and devoured everything and everyone on its way. When Vesuvius erupted the next morning, Pompeii was covered with million tonnes of slag.
Approximately 2,000 persons were killed. A few have returned to the city in quest of missing family members or property, but there was not much more. Pompeii, together with the smaller neighbouring cities Stabiae and Herculaneum, was deserted for centenaries. Until 1748, Pompeii was largely unaffected when a group of researchers in Campania in their quest for antique artefacts began to work.
Under all this dirt Pompeii was almost exactly the same as 2000 years ago. The Pompeii excavations have been said by many scientists to have had an important part in the neoclassical rebirth of the eighteenth cent. Europe's richest and most stylish family showed artworks and replicas of ruined artefacts, and sketches of Pompeii's architecture shaped the time.
Prosperous Anglo-Saxon homes, for example, often constructed "Etruscan rooms" imitating those in Pompeian mansions. Today Pompeii has been excavated for almost three hundred years, and scientists and visitors are as intrigued by the uncanny remains of the town as they were in the 18. citadel.