Mount Vesuvius erupts near Pompeii in southern Italy. Although roughly half the citizens of Pompeii escaped toward the sea, more than 2,000 people were buried under seven feet of molten lava, ash, and pumice. Around 1,700 years later, the excavation of Pompeii presented a picture of the everyday life of an ancient civilization, startlingly preserved in sudden death. Excavation, which began in 1748, continues today. Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland.