Place Detail

Pompeii

Pompeii was destroyed, and completely buried, during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in AD 79. The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under 25 feet of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire.

Three sheets of sediment have been found on top of the lava bedrock that lies below the city and, mixed in with the sediment, archaeologists have found bits of animal bone, pottery shards and plants. Using carbon dating, the oldest layer has been dated to the 8th-6th centuries BC, about the time that the city was founded. The other two layers are separated from the other layers by well-developed soil layers or Roman pavement and were laid in the 4th century BC and 2nd century BC. It is theorized that the layers of jumbled sediment were created by large landslides, perhaps triggered by extended rainfall. The town was founded around the 7th-6th century BC by the Oscans, a people of central Italy, on what was an important crossroad between Cumae, Nola and Stabiae. 

The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under 60 feet of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1,700 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. The Forum, the baths, many houses, and some out-of-town villas like the Villa of the Mysteries remain surprisingly well preserved. Pompeii was a lively place, and evidence abounds of literally the smallest details of everyday life.

Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy.