In the year 79 C.E., the volcano Mt. Vesuvius erupted and buried the ancient Roman town of Pompeii under 20 feet (6 meters) of lava and ash. Pompeii is famous because excavations of the city, which began in 1748 and continue to this day, provide an excellent look at Roman life at the beginning of the millennium. The covering of the city by debris preserved not only the places where people last stood but also paintings, art, and many other artifacts. The nearby city of Herculaneum also was perfectly preserved. Although a much smaller version of Pompeii, it contains some of the best art, architecture, and examples of daily life in Roman times and is only 20 minutes away from Pompeii.