Pompeii was a large Roman town in the Italian region of Campania which was completely buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. The town was excavated in the 19th and 20th century and due to its excellent state of preservation it has given an invaluable insight into the Roman world and may lay claim to being the richest archaeological site in the world.
Mount Vesuvius, a volcano near the Bay of Naples in Italy, is hundreds of thousands of years old and has erupted more than 50 times. The most famous eruption of the volcano took place in the year 79 A.D., when the volcano buried the ancient Roman city of Pompeii under a thick carpet of volcanic ash. Two thousand people died, and the city was abandoned for almost as many years. When a group of explorers rediscovered the site in 1748, they were surprised to find that–underneath a thick layer of dust and debris–Pompeii was mostly intact. The buildings, artifacts and skeletons left behind in the buried city have taught us a great deal about everyday life in the ancient world.
Greeks established colonies in Campania in the 8th century and the Etruscans were also present until they were defeated by Syracusan and local Greeks at the battle of Cumae in 474 BCE. From then on the Samnite people from the local mountains began to infiltrate and dominate the region.
Pompeii was favoured by Rome and the town flourished with large building projects being carried out in the 2nd century.
Another period of prosperity followed, a local senate (ordo decurionum) was formed and a new amphitheatre and odeion were built with capacity for 5000 and 1500 spectators respectively. After centuries of ups and downs, the town had reached its peak.
Following seismic activity and coastal changes, Pompeii now stands 2km inland but it would have been much closer to the sea and the mouth of the Sarno in Roman times and around four metres lower. The Roman town of Pompeii covers some three square kilometres (one third remains unexcavated) but the outer suburbs were also densely populated.
Location: Campania region
Nearby hotels: Hotel Forum Pompei, Hotel Diana Pompei, Pompei Resort
Nearby sights: Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Rosary, Villa dei Misteri, Teatro Grande
Official website: http://www.pompeiturismo.it/index.php?Itemid=28