© istockphoto.com/dhuss

THE SILVER LINING. Buried by burning hot ash, Pompeii was completely destroyed in a matter of hours by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (seen in the background of this photo of Pompeii’s ruins). The manner of its demise also protected it, however. The city remained amazingly preserved for almost two millennia. When it began to be excavated in the late 19th century, the archaeologists revealed a first-century Roman city frozen in time—from the vivid frescoes on the walls of spacious villas to the loaves of bread left baking in the oven.