Friday, February 22

Flashback Four : The Pompeii Disaster

August 24, 79 AD

Seventeen years after being rocked by a major earthquake, the city of Pompeii had recovered and was a bustling metropolis.  The local historian, Seneca, wrote that quakes lasted for several days in early August of the year 79, but people were so accustomed to them that they were ignored.

Early escapees of the city were able to flee to nearby Misenum (about 13 miles away).  One of these was Pliny the Younger, who wrote that he observed, "the sea retreating as if pushed by the earthquakes" and "black and horrible clouds, broken by sinuous shapes of flaming wind."  He was seeing the wind - which ultimately doomed the people of Pompeii - and a tsunami that resulted from the earthquake.

Vesuvius' first explosion took everyone by surprise, and only 2,000 residents survived that first blast.  In only 25 hours, over 30,000 people died from the eruption!

The volcanic mud overtook the town so quickly, most victims died instantly -- the superheated air burned their lungs, and they were left curled up in ash and preserved for eons.  Because of the speed, the city of Pompeii became a snapshot of daily life in ancient Rome, and is a treasure trove for archaeologists.  

  • The Pompeii Disaster
    • Eccentric billionaire Miss Z is sending Luke, Julia, David, and Isabel on another mission back in time to capture one of history’s most important events.  This time, the Flashback Four are headed to AD 79 to photograph the eruption of Mount Vesuvius! Can the Flashback Four get their photo and get back home before they become ancient history?  With real photographs from Pompeii to help put young readers right in the action, plus back matter that separates fact from fiction, The Pompeii Disaster tells the story of one of the world’s most devastating natural disasters like you’ve never seen it before.
Make / Do
Related imageVocabulary
  • tremors
  • strutting
  • quivered
  • frantically
  • anxious
  • horrified
  • muffled
  • gasping
  • barren
  • remains
  • What can we learn about life in Roman times from the ruins of Pompeii? 
  • Gold coins were usually hidden in a safe place. Why do you think some of Pompeii’s victims were carrying gold coins?


  1. I visited Pompeii when I went to Italy--it is so fascinating and I have some really cool pictures.

    1. So amazing! What was the best part? Or maybe, the most surprising part? I have a long list of ancient sites on the to-visit list. :)

  2. Pompeii has always fascinated me but I have not read as much about it as I would like. I am going to see if I can find some of these books to read myself and maybe I can get my girls interested. I found your except from Pliny the Younger interesting to read.

    1. I've been trying to include some form of primary source with everything (a) because some states require use of them and (b) because they're just fascinating!! The last book in this series comes out in April, and we've loved them. :)

  3. I've always found the Pompeii disaster fascinating. I love how you tie everything together in this unit study.

    1. Thanks! Be sure to come back in a few weeks for the conclusion to the series....will the kids make it back to their own timeline?

  4. I enjoy these short studies that you put together. :)

    1. Thanks! :) It's nice to hear that someone is reading.

  5. Pompeii is very interesting - I will have to pin this so we can revisit it as my kids have been studying volcanoes.

  6. i didn't know there where different types of volcanos. Good to learn something new eh?