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1. Introduction 2. The Vesuvian sites before AD 79: the archaeological, literary and epigraphical evidence 3. Mount Vesuvius before the disaster 4. The eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 5. Paleosols of the Pompeii area 6. Plants: evidence from the wall paintings, mosaics, sculpture, plant remains, graffiti and ancient authors 7. Pollen analysis of soil samples from the AD 79 surfaces at Pompeii, Oplontis, and Boscoreale 8. Wood associated with the AD 79 eruption: its chemical characterization by solid state 13 C NMR as a guide to the degree of carbonization 9. Identification of the wood used in the Furniture at Herculaneum 10. Dendrochronological investigations at Herculaneum and Pompeii 11. Environmental changes in and around Lake Avernus in Greek and Roman times: a study of the plant and animal remains preserved in the lake's sediments 12. Fish: evidence from specimens, mosaics, paintings and ancient authors 13. Marine invertebrates, fresh-water shells and land snails: evidence from specimens, mosaics, wall paintings, sculpture, jewelry and ancient authors 14. Insects: evidence from wall paintings, sculpture, mosaics, carbonized remains and ancient authors 15. Amphibians and reptiles: evidence from wall paintings, mosaics, sculpture, skeletal remains and ancient authors 16. Birds: evidence from wall paintings, mosaics, sculpture, skeletal remains and ancient authors 17. Mammals: evidence from wall paintings, sculpture, mosaics, faunal remains and ancient authors 18. Health and nutrition at Herculaneum: an examination of human skeletal remains 19. In conclusion.