In 79 C.E. Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the nearby cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in thick layers of volcanic ash. There was no time to suffocate; most died not from the poisonous gas but were instead flash-heated into immediate rigor mortis. The eruption froze the final agonizing moments of the city of Pompeii’s inhabitants in time; preserving not only their pain, but their homes, their pets, and the lewd jokes scratched on the city’s walls.
Since the rediscovery of the ancient cities in 1599, the fate of their inhabitants has been a source of fascination to people. Never before had the experience of tragedy been so vividly preserved. And, alongside the pain-wrenched expressions of those who died were scrolls, cooking implements, and artwork: the banal artifacts of daily life.
And now, with modern technology, we can see how the people of Pompeii lived. The Swedish Pompeii Project has used 3D scanning technology to recreate an entire city block (Insula V.1). The digitized buildings include a bakery, a tavern, three large houses and gardens, and a laundry. One of the villas included in the project included a fountain.