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One of my favorite stops during my travels last summer was visiting the ancient ruins of Pompeii, a sprawling city buried beneath 15 feet of ash and pumice when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

It was such a strange feeling to be walking along the streets and into the homes and bath houses of people whose lives had been buried in an instant for centuries. We only had three hours to see what needed several days, at least, to explore fully. But I still came away feeling deeply moved, and somewhat eerie, as if I was voyeur peeking through the curtains of time into private quarters never meant for my eyes.

It was fascinating how much of the colorful frescoes, painted tiles, and sculptured wall friezes survived; how wide and well-paved the streets and  sidewalks were; and how many clay pots and urns remained intact buried beneath the ash. Also buried were the bodies of those unable to escape in time. Those final moments are now memorialized in plaster casts.

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