Weird History

A Timeline Of Pompeii’s Life, Destruction, And Afterlife

There is an old saying: “Live every day like it’s your last.” We live in an unpredictable world and are threatened by everything from nuclear fallout to heart disease. But how many of us really live each day as if we’ll never get another?

Late in the year 79 CE, the citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum would have found this question extremely pressing. When the nearby stratovolcano Mount Vesuvius erupted, it set off a cycle of chaos that wiped out both towns and their citizens.

There have been many devastating volcanic eruptions throughout history, but the catastrophe at Pompeii holds a singular grip on the public imagination. This is due, in part, to the writings of a survivor: A man we know as Pliny the Younger witnessed the entire events and wrote about it in his later years.

Thanks to Pliny’s writings and the tireless work of archaeologists and conservationists, we now have a detailed understanding of the events that left the preserved bodies of Pompeii.