Pompeii, the lost Roman city buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD, has long been a source of fascination to archaeologists. Its sister city Herculaneum, buried in the same eruption but to a much greater depth, reveals an even more complete picture of Roman life. The high temperature of surges that engulfed Herculaneum had the effect of carbonising organic matter such as wood and food, preserving them intact. This film tells of scientific advances in our knowledge of the two cities. The Herculaneum Conservation Project works with vulcanologists and forensic scientists to piece together the mystery of how the Herculaneans lived and died. Analysis of skeletons discovered in the 1980s show that death came swiftly, at temperatures of 500 degrees. Pompeii and Herculaneum now face a double threat: the cities are crumbling for lack of resources to conserve them; and Vesuvius is on course to erupt again.
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