Mount Vesuvius, a composite volcano, erupted in AD79 and killed thousands of people in the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Archaeologists have discovered hollows in the volcanic ash where the victims' bodies fell and eventually decayed. They have filled these cavities with plaster to see the outline of their final resting places.
For many years it was assumed that lava killed the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but volcanologists later discovered it was something far more deadly. Learn more about Mount Vesuvius and its historic eruption with the videos below.
Image: A plaster cast of a Roman Vesuvius victim in Pompeii (inset); A computer-generated graphic of the eruption (main image)
Inset image credit: Science Photo Library
BBC News reports on the active volcano looming over Naples.
The BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Mount Vesuvius, which is close to the city of Naples. Experts warn that a future major eruption of the volcano could put resident's lives at risk. However, it cannot be predicted when Vesuvius will erupt again.
Deadly Mount Vesuvius is on a long fuse.
The long time periods between eruptions mean that people become complacent about the risk from a Mount Vesuvius eruption.
Find out how the people of Herculaneum and Pompeii died.
The people of the ancient Roman towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii died when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79 and pyroclastic flows of hot gas, ash and rock burnt and suffocated them. In modern times, archaeologists have found cavities in the ash left by their bodies and filled them with plaster to show how they fell.
What killed the people of Pompeii?
For a long time it was believed that lava from Mount Vesuvius killed the people of Pompeii in AD79. This clip shows that this couldn't have been the case and introduces the mystery that shrouded this famous eruption for many years.