Pompeii is a city frozen in time because of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. Early in the afternoon of August 24, in the year 79 ace, the people of Pompeii were frightened by a loud, booming sound coming from the direction of Mount Vesuvius five miles away. Suddenly the sky became as dark as night, and a huge column of ash, cinders, and rock rose up from the rim of Vesuvius. Within 24 hours, more than 2,000 Pompeians were dead, buried in the volcanic eruption that followed. That eruption brought an end to life in Pompeii, but also perfectly preserved the city for nearly 2,000 years. Because of that devastating eruption, Pompeii has become an important source for understanding life in the first century. Journey to this ancient city in Pompeii.