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History of Pompeii







Today Pompeii is located a few kilometers from the coast, but in ancient times the city was located closer to the sea. Archaeological excavations below the cultural level of 79 years show that Pompeii has been destroyed before, but people managed to return and rebuild their houses. Around 1780 BC, for example, as a result of an unusually strong eruption (known today as the “Avellino eruption”), millions of tons of hot lava, ash and stones rose 30 km above the ground. This prehistoric catastrophe destroyed almost every village, settlement and fields 20 km from the mountain. Over time, the memory of this eruption was lost, and new settlers settled the land, unaware of the danger.

Pompeii was probably founded in the 7th century BC. At least, the most ancient remains date back to this period. The founders of the city are considered the tribe of the Oscars, one of the peoples of Central Italy. They also gave a name to their city, Pompeii. In the dialect of this people "Pump" denotes the number five. Perhaps this meant the original five families or clans who founded the settlement of Pompeii. Some historians also believe that the name comes from five villages that made up a single city. Interestingly, this division into 5 constituencies survived until the Roman period.

Later Roman historians came up with their own explanation for the formation of Pompeii. They claimed that "Pompeii" received from the Greek word pompe t. triumphal procession. According to their version, Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum would have been founded by the ancient Greek hero Hercules after defeating the giant Geryon. Of course it is not clear what attitude the scuffle has to the foundation of the city, but the Romans believed that the first was the reason for the second. The Greek and Phoenician influence is felt in some of the artifacts found here. The fact is that even then the harbor of the city was used by navigators. At the moment, the harbor of Pompeii is covered with geological sediments. Archaeological excavations were not conducted here, but planned.

Oskan tribes were quickly replaced by Etruscans in the 6th century BC. Their inscriptions were found in some areas of the excavation. The Etruscans expanded Pompeii by establishing trade routes with neighboring Greek and Phoenician colonists. The Etruscans ceded Pompeii to the Greeks from the colony of Kuma between 525 and 474 BC, who were allied with the city of Syracuse in Sicily. However, the Greeks could not for a long time to keep this city. Soon Pompeii conquered another Italian tribe of the Samnites. The city grew significantly and expanded during this period. Many houses and architecture of that period in the history of the city survived until the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

After the first Samnite war (343 - 341 BC), Rome acquired most of the Campania regions including Pompeii. However, the city itself managed to retain its administrative autonomy since its inhabitants were considered an ally of Rome. However, the citizens of Pompeii were the guys restless. These organizers managed to organize in alliance with other cities in the Campania region organized an uprising against the government of Rome in 89 BC.

Roman commander Lucius Cornelius Sulla quickly led his troops to the city and laid siege to Pompeii. The army of citizens under the command of Lucius Cluentius bravely beat off all the attacks of the Romans. In the end, its inhabitants were forced to surrender to the Roman army in 80 BC. Many of its former residents were expelled while Roman veterans received land and dwelling houses of former owners. Pompeii was turned into a Roman colony under the Latin name Colonia Cornelia Veneria Pompeianorum.

Traces of siege Roman guns on the walls of Pompeii, left by the siege of Sulla





During the Roman Republic of Pompeii further expanded. The Romans led not only their soldiers, but also technology and lifestyle. Roman commander Mark Vipsanius Agrippa built the Aqua aqueduct from Augusta (present-day Naples) to the city in 20 BC, thus guaranteeing that this important shopping center along the Appian Way will not have a shortage of fresh water. The remains of the water distributor Castellum Aqua (Castellum Aquae) are still preserved at the Vesuvian Gate. From a small building there were three pipes for different types of buildings. In extreme drought, water supply could be cut by a simple turn of the crane. The first one was of course disconnected from the water supply of public baths (the least vital building), and then the water supply to private houses and businesses was blocked, and the latter were turned off to public fountains (most important for all citizens of the city) on the streets of Pompeii. The pools in Pompeii were mainly for decoration.

Many rich citizens of Rome began to settle in Pompeii and in its suburbs. Most of the great buildings that you can see here were built around that time. Unfortunately, human ingenuity could not compete with the forces of nature. Pompeii was badly damaged during the February 5, 62 earthquake. The consequences of this natural cataclysm were described in detail in the "Annals" of Tacitus. Many buildings were destroyed, others were seriously damaged. The inhabitants of Pompeii quickly restored most of the important buildings, but the traces of this earthquake are still visible. In addition, earthquake scenes were depicted on some frescoes in private houses of the inhabitants of Pompeii.

Historians believe that during the final destruction, more than 20,000 citizens lived in Pompeii, which was considered a great policy for its time.

Doom of Pompeii
The final blow for Pompeii came on August 24, 79 AD. The quiet Mount Vesuvius began its eruption, destroying several small towns and villages, including Pompeii. Ironically, the winds in this region usually blew in a southwesterly direction into the Gulf of Naples. If this happened on that most ill-fated day, then many residents might have been able to save their lives. However, on that fateful day, the winds changed their course and began to blow in a southeast direction, right in the direction of Pompeii. The city, with many of its inhabitants, was covered under the thickness of up to 4–6 meters (13–20 feet) of ash in less than 24 hours. The force of the eruption was so powerful that geological rocks reached Egypt and Syria.

The Romans after the eruption did not try to settle Pompeii. Fortunately, an eyewitness to the events of Pliny the Younger left behind a description of the eruption. He was at a small distance from the place and the natural power left a great impression on him. His uncle, Pliny the Elder, the admiral of the Roman fleet, tried to approach the site of the eruption. Drawn by a desire to help people and take a closer look at the eruption, he ordered to prepare the boat and crew to swim across the Gulf of Naples. He died from the poisonous gases that erupted from the cradle of Vesuvius. Some historians believe that he most likely died of exacerbation of asthma, and not asphyxiation with volcanic gases. This theory speaks of the fact that the boatmen survived despite some choking and were able to bring the body of the old master back to the villa, where he lived with his young nephew Pliny the Younger.

Pompeii and the First Archaeological Excavations
Pompeii remained hidden from the gaze of citizens until it was accidentally found in 1594. The first person to see the ancient Roman streets was the architect Domenico Fontana, who dug the Sarno underground canal, providing water to the gun factory in Torre-Annunziata. During these excavations, several colored wall paintings, several inscriptions, small objects, etc. were found. The excavations were short-lived, and the tunnels were filled up again. The first more or less systematic archaeological excavations began only in 1748. Karl Weber systematically began to tear off the ancient Pompeii. His successor, Francesco La Vega, discovered the gladiator barracks, the Odeon or the theater and the temple of Isis in 1764.


New impetus to the excavations in Pompeii gave the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy in 1806. His sister, Queen Carolina, together with the French Marshal Joachim Murat began to spend large sums of money to continue the archaeological excavations in ancient Pompeii. After the defeat of the French army, the excavations stopped. However, they resumed shortly thereafter. The Ancient Roman Forum was discovered in 1823. After the unification of Italy in 1861, archaeological research continued under the direction of Fiuseppe Fiorelli. He divided Pompeii into regions (regio) and quarters or blocks (insulae) in Latin. In 1863, he made an interesting discovery. He suggested that many of the empty spaces found in the city were in fact left by the bodies of dead people who could not escape from the eruption. He filled these voids with plaster and obtained the casts of the victims of Vesuvius in their last moments of life. Archaeological excavations are still going on at this place. Most of Pompeii is still buried under meters of land. Lack of adequate funding makes further excavation difficult. Unfortunately, given the current difficult economic situation in the country, there is barely enough money to save those parts of the city that have already been dug up.