In practically the blink of an eye, the thriving community of Pompeii, Italy, was reduced to ash-covered ruins, permanently frozen in time. It was a normal day in A.D. 79 for the residents of Pompeii. Suddenly, the tempestuous volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted, showering the city with ashes, cinders and other debris. Many residents were able to evacuate before the volcanic waste landed. However, those 2,000 people who didn't escape in time were trapped under the ashes, which almost instantly formed an airtight seal of sorts over the entire city.
The ruins of Pompeii weren't disturbed until they were discovered in 1748 and archaeologists began the excavation process [source: The History Channel]. Archaeologists never expected the near-perfect preservation of the buildings and objects that had been buried for more than 1,500 years. They were even able to create molds of the people trapped underneath the debris. Though their bodies had long since turned to dust, the air pockets where they were trapped remained intact. Once filled with plaster, the molds rendered a striking likeness of the volcano's victims, trapped in various states of evacuation [source: National Geographic].