It's been nearly 2,000 years since the ancient Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed, buried in ash after the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius.
To build excitement for its new exhibit, "A Day in Pompeii," the Denver Museum of Nature & Science posted to Twitter on Aug. 24 — the 1,933rd anniversary of the event — in the voice of Pliny the Elder, the famed Roman historian who witnessed the destruction from the town of Misenum, across the Gulf of Naples.
"A cloud made of ash and dirt appears to be coming from Mount Vesuvius," Pliny posted at 9:15 a.m., underscoring both the horror of the event — since Vesuvius' past eruption was in prehistoric times, most Romans had no idea what a volcano was — and the conditions that made Pompeii one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
Because of the way the volcanic ash settled on the city, its artifacts were perfectly preserved until they were rediscovered in the mid-1700s. Though most citizens were able to escape Pompeii, they had to leave their houses and possessions behind. When researchers began digging up the site in 1748, they discovered perfectly preserved frescoes, murals, statues, coins, furniture and jewelry and more — even a carbonized loaf of bread.
More than 250 such artifacts are on display in "A Day in Pompeii," the traveling exhibit that opens Friday and runs through Jan. 13 at the museum.
"Culture is a critical aspect of what the museum does," says Steve Nash, the museum's curator of archaeology. "We're a museum of nature and science, and culture is included in science. Pompeii is arguably the most famous archaeological site in the world, and having firsthand access to these artifacts is a privilege for Denver."
Via Pompeii before (and after) Vesuvius' eruption at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science