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Darkness descended at noon. The earth shook with violent tremors that destroyed homes and drove back the sea from its banks. People tied pillows to their heads against the storm of stones and cinders raining from on high. In the distance, they saw a cloud of flames, gas and burning rocks shooting more than 20 kilometres into the sky. It was a very bad day in Pompeii.

History tells us that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in 79AD, did not end well for the ancient Roman city. "You might hear the shrieks of women, the screams of children and the shouts of men," wrote witness Pliny the Younger.

John Martin End of DaysJohn Martin, End of Days

Some wished for a swift death, some held their hands up to the gods. "But the greater part [were] convinced that there were now no gods at all, and that the final endless night … had come upon the world."

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Lead Photo: Steven Siewert

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