This photo shows the sophisticated roman lead plumbing system running under the pavement at Herculaneum. It has been argued that lead piping in wealthy roman towns such as these caused lead poisoning in the occupants and ultimately contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire. Symptoms of lead poisoning include confusion, headaches, and irritability.
On the afternoon of 24th August, AD79, the volcano Vesuvius erupted violently, sending several pyroclastic surges of ash and hot gasses (at least 250°C) which killed and buried everybody and everything in its path. The Roman port of Herculaneum, and those who had not evacuated the area, were completely buried to a depth of some 20 metres. Excavations of part of the ruined city have continued intermittently since the early 1700s. The artifacts and buildings that have been revealed so far provide a comprehensive time capsule of daily life on the day of the disaster.