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Two ordinary Roman cities on the Bay of Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum would probably have been footnotes in history had it not been for the sudden and savage method of their destruction in AD79, when Vesuvius erupted with cataclysmic force. The ruins lay buried for almost 1,700 years, their treasure-trove of artefacts preserved by the ash in which they were entombed. Their rediscovery has given us a unique insight into the lives of the people of the Roman Empire, how they worked and played, loved and worshipped. Here, in association with Goldman Sachs, supporter of the British Museum exhibition, ‘Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’ (March 28-September 29 2013), we explore life (and death) in the ancient cities.