I remember first hearing about the legendary “Plaster People” of Pompeii back in elementary school. As a child, it was incredibly fascinating and haunting to imagine that an entire civilization was buried and preserved beneath tons of ash and pumice after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
At the time of the eruption, Pompeii was a sprawling Roman city, with a population around 20,000. It even had a complex water system, a busy port, and an amphitheater.
The archaeological site was lost for nearly 1,500 years until it was discovered in 1599, and later rediscovered 150 years later by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre in 1748.
Everything that was hidden below the ash, including people and artifacts, were able to stay well preserved all those centuries because of a lack of moisture and air.
During the excavation of the site, plaster was used to fill the space between the layers of ash that once held the human bodies together. This process is what has allowed us the opportunity to view the exact position each person was in when they perished.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pompeii attracts approximately 2.5 million visitors from around the world each year.