Now, we are a good way to conduct the entire “human” experiment, and the first phase-the age of the explorer-is ending. We have mapped every piece of land to a certain level of detail, and we are digging into the secrets of ancient civilizations. The untapped wilderness is being moved by more and more people, turning the wilderness into a landmark.
Every year, as more and more people flock to these landmarks, the difference between settlement and tame becomes more and more obvious. Sometimes the land fought back and people died. Sometimes people just fight each other and die. Either way, after 300,000 years of settlement, there are many dead people in many truly cool places. These are ten of the landmarks. Whether it is a natural wonder or a man-made wonder, in either case, there are a large number of dead bodies.
The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was a wealthy community. Rich Roman men frequented its fine bathhouses and brothels, artists filled the city with grand statues and frescoes, and its (seemingly) idyllic location between Italy’s Tyrrhenian Sea and Mount Vesuvius made it a trade hub and tourist destination. That all changed in the Fall of AD 79 when Vesuvius revealed itself to be an active volcano and erupted for two days straight. It began with 18 hours of pumice rain—clouds of rock dust spewed out by the volcano that blanketed Pompeii and the surrounding region in a dark, choking haze. Luckily, this stage was relatively slow and visible and allowed most of the city’s 20,000 inhabitants to flee to safety.
For the 1,200 who remained in the city for whatever reason, a series of quick ejections of hot ash sealed their fate. What’s most interesting is that many of them left spaces in the ash that allowed archaeologists to create casts of their bodies. These revealed the citizens’ final locations and positions, and so we know, for example, which people huddled together in the end, which tried to run from the city, and which—in at least one case—just sat in a tavern, having one final drink.