Today, Pompeii is a preserved historic site, a place of archaeological study and a tourist attraction. Situated on the outskirts of Naples and at the base of the still-active volcano Vesuvius, the city is no longer populated.
In the year 79 C.E., Mt. Vesuvius erupted, coating all of the town of Pompeii in ash and preserving much of it. In its heydey, Pompeii was a prosperous town and popular Roman vacation destination. The town had an estimated population of about 20,000 people when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Many of Pompeii's residents fled the city when the volcano erupted. Those who did not were eradicated by a flood of poisonous gas in the aftermath of the eruption. In total, about 2,000 people died as a result of the Mt. Vesuvius eruption.
The site was unearthed in 1748. As researchers dug, it became evident that much of the town had been preserved by the ash. Much has been learned about Roman architecture and art as the result of the discovery of the remains of Pompeii. To date, much of Pompeii has been excavated and is open to the public. There, visitors can view original graffiti, frescoes, homes, shops, baths, pottery and even the preserved forms of people who died as a result of the volcanic eruption.