Pompeii and Herculaneum were once thriving towns in the Bay of Naples. Though both cities have rich histories influenced by Greeks, Oscans, Etruscans, Samnites and finally the Romans, they are most renowned for their destruction: both were buried in the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. For over 1,500 years, these cities were left in remarkable states of preservation underneath volcanic ash, mud and rubble. The eruption completely obliterated the towns but ironically was the cause of their longevity and survival over the centuries.
However, for both cities, excavation has brought with it deterioration, as both natural forces and human activity (whether accidental or deliberate) have played their part in the slow disintegration of the sites. Problems range from paintings being exposed to light and buildings being worn away by weathering, erosion and water damage to inappropriate excavation and reconstruction methods to outright theft and vandalism. As stated by Henri de Saint-Blanquat:
—Henri de Saint-Blanquat, Science et Avenir