A city frozen in place by ash and lava, Pompeii is one of history’s strangest tales. Learn more about the city’s geography, ancient Rome and the explosion’s legacy with five Pompeii stats.
79: the year Mt. Vesuvius erupts, destroying Pompeii and nearby towns Herculaneum, Stabiae and Oplontis. The eruption was the most noteworthy event of the year 79; elsewhere in ancient Rome, Emperor Vespasium died and was succeeded by his son Titus, Roman troops invaded Caledonia (modern-day Scotland) and the famous Roman Colosseum was dedicated.
20,000: the population of Pompeii at the time of the eruption. The city’s population was booming in the years leading up to the disaster as Pompeii profited from its region’s fertile lands, ideal for agriculture.
150: miles Pompeii was located from Rome. The city sat five miles away from the base of Mt. Vesuvius. At the time of the eruption, the volcano spewed ash and gas over 20 miles into the air, blanketing the area before the lava arrived.
1: Number of eyewitness accounts on record for the Mt. Vesuvius eruption. Pliny the Younger, a lawyer and magistrate in Rome, was stationed across the Bay of Naples from Mt. Vesuvius at the time of the eruption, and published two letters recounting his experience 25 years after. His uncle Pliny the Older, a Roman author, scholar and military commander, perished in Pompeii while attempting to rescue friends from the eruption.
1748: The year Pompeii was rediscovered by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. de Alcubierre came across the ruins of Herculaneum a decade earlier while prospecting for a summer home site for the future king of Spain, Charles III. He continued to excavate and managed to uncover much of the Pompeii ruins.
Go deeper inside the Pompeii ruins in a new episode of When Rome Ruled, tonight at 9P.