APOCALYPSE PICTURES: 10 Failed Doomsday Prophecies !
Eruption of Mount Vesuvius
November 4, 2009—Just as some people today believe a Maya calendar pinpoints 2012 as the end of the world as we know it, some ancient Romans saw the A.D. 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius (pictured: Pompeiians flee the city in an illustration) as a sign of a coming apocalypse. (See "2012 Prophecies Sparking Real Fears, Suicide Warnings.")
That's because Roman philosopher Seneca, who died in A.D. 65, had predicted the Earth would go up in smoke: "All we see and admire today will burn in the universal fire that ushers in a new, just, happy world," he said, according to the 1999 book Apocalypses.
(Test your Armageddon knowledge on the National Geographic Channel Web site.)
The end never came, but that hasn't stopped people—over centuries and across cultures—from forecasting our collective doom. Click through the gallery for a sampling of end-of-the-Earth scenarios.