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Text Illustrations
The May 1984 National Geographic showed, through color photos and drawings, the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79.

The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their normal routines of life: men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gasses. Even family pets suffered the same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of that terrible day. The saddest part is that these people did not have to die.

Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record--weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius’s warning!