During its heyday, Pompeii was a moderately important town locally, but it didn’t have the same significance as Ostia, for example, or Herculaneum. Estimates suggest that it was home to around 11,000 people, a medium-sized town with a busy industrial port but no particular political or cultural significance. That was until it was destroyed by a volcano in 79 AD, forgotten until its rediscovery in 1738. The town’s preservation under ash, though fatal for the inhabitants, meant that it provided a wealth of material to archaeologists and historians. From preserved buildings and items for sale to the physical remains of the people who died in the eruption (including their clothing and skeletons), historians have been able to piece together what life might have been like for an average citizen of the Roman Empire. It’s been an invaluable resource, so much so that schoolchildren are taught about Pompeii all around the world and that there have been near-continuous excavations going on at Pompeii for over 250 years.