Pompeii is a ruined Roman city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the commune of Pompei. It was destroyed during a catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The volcano buried the city under many feet of ash and it was lost for 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, it is one of Italy's leading tourist attractions and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although most of the archeological digs at the site only extend down to the street level of the 79 AD volcanic event, deeper digs in older parts of Pompeii and core samples of nearby drillings have exposed layers of jumbled sediment that suggest that the city had suffered from the volcano and other seismic events before then. Three sheets of sediment have been found on top of the lava bedrock that lies below the city and, mixed in with the sediment, archeologists have found bits of animal bone, pottery shards and bits of plants.
Using carbon dating, the oldest layer has been placed as 8th-6th century BC, about the time that the city was founded. The other two layers are separated from the other layers by well developed soil layers or Roman pavement and were laid down in the 4th century BC and 2nd century BC. The theory behind the layers of jumbled sediment is large landslides, perhaps triggered by extended rainfall. (Senatore, et al., 2004)
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