The eruption has captured peoples' imaginations since the site was rediscovered in 1594. The painting to the right is by the English romantic artist Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797).
The Last Day in Pompeii is a BBC production that dramatizes the day, two millennia ago, that Mount Vesuvius erupted. Arguably the worst natural disaster of the ancient world, the lava preserved bodies and remnants of culture that create a doorway into the ancient past. This docudrama imagines what that last day must have been like, and takes us into the lives of gladiators, citizens and slaves as they face the momentous decision to flee or stay. 5,000 people perished that day. 3 million people now live at the foot of Mount Vesuvius.
Plinian eruptions of this magnitude only happen once every 2,000 or so years. The next eruption is overdue.
Amazing footage of the volcono erupting lets you have a first-hand view of the disaster as you sit safely at your computer screen:
The eruption was documented by contemporary historians and is generally accepted as having started on 24 August 79, relying on one version of the text of Pliny's letter... However the archeological excavations of Pompeii suggest that the city was buried about two months later; this is supported by another version of the letter which gives the date of the eruption as November 23. People buried in the ash appear to be wearing warmer clothing than the light summer clothes that would be expected in August. The fresh fruit and vegetables in the shops are typical of October, and conversely the summer fruit that would have been typical of August was already being sold in dried, or conserved form. Wine fermenting jars had been sealed over, and this would have happened around the end of October. The coins found in the purse of a woman buried in the ash include a commemorative coin that should have been minted at the end of September. So far there is no definitive theory as to why there should be such an apparent discrepancy Wikipedia