By the time of Pompeii's, destruction, its population was estimated at 11,000 people.
The eruption destroyed the city, killing its inhabitants and burying it under tons of ash.
Evidence for the destruction originally came from a surviving letter by Pliny the Younger, who saw the eruption from a distance and described the death of his uncle Pliny the Elder, an admiral of the Roman fleet, who tried to rescue citizens.
The site was lost for about 1,500 years and the objects that lay beneath the city have been preserved because of the long lack of air and moisture. These artifacts provide an extraordinarily detailed insight into the lives of the city's inhabitants.
While excavating, archaeologist used plaster to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. These casts show the exact position the person was in when he or she died. Many of the casts are on display within the city walls.
Today Pompeii has UNESCO World Heritage Site status.