Here’s a riddle: A typical day in this town means going shopping, stopping by the laundry, catching a sporting event at the amphitheater, or maybe taking in a play – and that was 2,000 years ago. Can you guess where you are? Not where you might expect: You’re in ancient Pompeii, an Italian village where life came to a fiery halt when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. In Pompeii, kids can learn more about this notorious natural disaster that buried 2,000 people and left the entire town covered in ash and pumice, creating a time capsule of everyday life that has fascinated archaeologists for centuries.
Starting with a chronology of the eruption, which began with an explosion that created a 10-mile-high column of ash and rock, this issue examines just what caused Mt. Vesuvius to blow its top and goes over the many other later eruptions – one of which, in 1631, killed even more people. A brief survey of the fascinating ruins of Pompeii, for kids, comes next, and traces the intricate architecture and social structure that has been gradually revealed by archaeological finds. They’ll enjoy learning about the lifestyle of rich Pompeiians, which included dining off of bronze – or even gold – plates while reclining on comfy couches. But there’s more to the story than just Pompeii; for kids seeking even more disaster tales, a look at Herculaneum – a small resort town that was also buried when Mt. Vesuvius’ erupted – will be interesting as well.