Dr. Steven Holen, Curator of Archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science has focused much of his research on this question, one of the most hotly debated topics in North American archaeology. After 130 years of scientists asking this question, we still do not have a definitive answer, although we are making progress in finding older and older human sites. Dr.
August 24, 79 AD, started out like any other day in the thriving Roman town of Pompeii, with citizens socializing at the public baths, watching gladiator contests, preparing meals and going to school. The popular resort town was located in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, which hadn't erupted in hundreds of years.
A series of small earthquakes in the last few days may have caused some uneasiness, however. Only seventeen years earlier, a big earthquake had caused massive damage, which the citizens of Pompeii were still trying to repair. At the time, the correlation between earthquakes and volcanic activity was unknown; but the longer a volcano is silent, the bigger the explosion when it finally does erupt.