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The cloud appeared to come out of the top of the mountain that was a long way away The best way to describe it is to say it looked like a pine tree It shot straight up like a very tall trunk At the top of the trunk the cloud spread out like branches Parts of the cloud were very bright and parts were quite dark The different colors were caused by the amount of cinders in different parts of it Pliny the Younger wrote these words as he observed the beginning eruption of the volcano that loomed over his city As this continued the citizens of Pompeii watched as the cloud came closer engulfing the city with ashes and cinders the volcano soon began producing sheets of lava and flames Days later the once prosperous city of Pompeii lay in ruins Perhaps one of the richest sites of archaeological history Pompeii provides a valuable insight into the life of first century Romans From excavations that first began in 1748 much has been discovered about the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire Pompeii was first settled by the Oscans in 600BC but didnt become a Roman colony until 89BC under the direction of Lucius Cornelius Sulla Pompeii played a big role in ancient Rome First of all Pompeii was a chief center of trade It had prosperous trade in wine oil millstones fish sauce perfumes and cloth In addition because Pompeii was located in such a prosperous and beautiful area at the mouth of the Sarnus River it made it a perfect place for leisure During the time of the Roman Empire it was a desired place for the wealthy to build summer villas or homes Destroyed in 79 AD by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius Pompeii lay buried beneath layers of volcanic debris for more than 1700 years before being discovered by a farmer in the
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