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The first settlements in the Ancient City of Pompeii date back to the 9th century BC. The city grew with the settlement of the Ancient Greeks in the 8th century BC. Pompeii, which was under Rome’s influence after the 2nd century BC, was where wealthy Roman citizens settled especially due to the beautiful Mediterranean climate. The settlement of wealthy Roman citizens continued until Pompeii disappeared. Romans built beautiful villas, paved roads, and wide avenues in Pompeii.

Pompeii was located at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Its proximity to the island of Capri, and the prevalence of Roman pomp made the city one of the favorite centers. As a result of the Vesuvius Volcano eruption in 79 AD, it was buried under ashes with the ancient city’s inhabitants. Perhaps this was Vesuvius’s most violent eruption, which exploded more than 50 times.

Pompeii, General view.

Pompeii, General view.

It is thought that ash and lava rained from the sky for 18 hours. Although some could act quickly and escape by ships, about 2000 people were trapped under a layer of ash and lava.

The bodies of approximately 1.150 people have been reached (It is estimated that there were 12.000 people in Pompeii at the time of the explosion. This reveals that the number of people who acted fast and escaped was much more than what is believed). The reason for the high impact of the disaster is that the people were accustomed to earthquakes and that day was a festival. Also, those who remained under the collapsed structures or those who were injured during the earthquake that took place simultaneously with the explosion died because they could not escape.

The day after the volcanic eruption, the cone of the Vesuvius Volcano collapsed. As a result of this collapse, or the giant clay landslide (archaeologists speak of a landslide with a speed of 160 kilometers hr.), Pompeii and Herculaneum village completely disappeared. Vesuvius last erupted in 1944, and it still threatens millions of people living in Naples 23 miles away.

Remains of Roman city buried by eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD and excavated in modern times.

Remains of Roman city buried by eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD and excavated in modern times. Photographer: Gary Todd from Xinzheng, China via Flickr / Wikimedia Commons.

For about 2000, the ancient city of Pompeii waited to be found in its original form, untouched by human hands. Although there are hints that excavations were made during the Roman Empire period, the first known excavations in Pompeii were carried out between 1594-1600. However, these studies ended due to the earthquake in 1631.

After the 1631 earthquake, the first excavations started in 1748 under the leadership of Carlo Borbone. Because Borbone intended to find treasure, Giuseppe Fiorelli took over the excavation work in 1861. Fiorelli systematically excavated and sprayed liquid plaster into the cavities around petrified human corpses and molded them.

Pietro Fabris – Excavation of the temple of Isis in Pompeii (1764)

Pietro Fabris – Excavation of the temple of Isis in Pompeii (1764)

Fiorelli unearthed the streets, squares, grand bazaars, temples, markets, and courtrooms of Pompeii. In Pompeii, a UNESCO world cultural heritage located in 165 decares, approximately 75% of the ancient city has been unearthed during the excavations still ongoing today.

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After the Pompeii excavations began systematically under the supervision of Fiorelli, archaeologists discovered that human bodies had decayed but were surrounded by voids in the ash layer.

General view and Vesuvius, Pompeii, Italy. Date between 1890 and 1900.

General view and Vesuvius, Pompeii, Italy. Date between 1890 and 1900.

The Forum, Pompeii, Italy 1880s

The Forum, Pompeii, Italy 1880s.

Thanks to these gaps, the details of the bodies of many victims have been almost completely revealed. With a special plaster-like mixture (like liquid clay) filled into these spaces, the final state of the bodies before they died was unearthed.


Pompeii Amphitheater is one of the oldest known theaters of the Roman period. It is estimated to have been built in 70 BC. It has a capacity of 20 thousand viewers. It has stairs with two entrances from the outside and one passage from the inside.

Thermopolium, Pompeii

Thermopolium, Pompeii. Thermopolium means “the place where hot food and drinks are eaten fast” in Greek. The beverage service area is an ancient restaurant with its counter and has survived perfectly. In the area where Mercury, the god of trade, and Dionysus, the god of wine, were found, people were served hot food and drinks in jars on the benches on the wall. The hob is used to heat the food. Photographer: Mosborne01 via Wikimedia Commons.

Casa dei Vetti

Casa dei Vetti is one of Pompei’s richest and most luxurious houses. The god of welfare, Priapus, is depicted on the right side of the door to show the welfare of the landlord. As in all houses, there is a courtyard and a pool in the middle of the living room. The garden was enlarged, and fountains and sculptures were placed. Since the frescoes were made after the earthquake that occurred in 62 AD, they are almost completely preserved. When you enter the kitchen area, you encounter erotic frescoes.

forum of pompeii

The forum, 157 meters long and 38 meters wide, was the center of life in Pompeii. It was the open space in the center of the city and opened to the Basilica, the Temple of Apollo, and other important buildings of the city. The lower row consists of dor-style columns, and the upper row consists of ion columns. It is estimated that there were many statues adorning the forum, but they were destroyed in the earthquake of 62 AD. The only thing that has survived is the pedestals of these sculptures. Photographer: Commonists via Wikimedia Commons.

House of the Small Fountain, Pompeii

House of the Small Fountain, Pompeii. It is estimated that this house, which has a very rich decoration, was built in the 1st century BC. It has been discovered that there is a system that collects rainwater on the roof and recycles it for wine production. Its frescoes are eye-catching. The fountain that gives the house its name is believed to be popular in houses in Pompeii in the 1st century AD. As you can see from the picture below, the water flows from the gutters in the fountain with a triangular roof and spreads from the area where the bronze figurines are located. Photographer: Frank K. from Anchorage, Alaska, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

temple of apollo pompeii

Temple of Apollo, Pompeii. Excavations in this building, one of the oldest places of worship in Pompeii, showed that the first temple was established in the 6th century BC. In the center of this temple, which was renovated in the 3rd and the 2nd centuries BC, there is a courtyard with an altar. Many sculptures extracted from this area are on display at the Naples Archaeological Museum, and the sculptures in the temple are copies of those in the museum. We recommend that you do not leave without examining the sundial on the column next to the altar in the courtyard if you ever visit Pompeii.

The Basilica, Pompeii

The Basilica, Pompeii’s most magnificent building, is one of the oldest examples in the Roman world and dates back to the 120s BC. The city was ruled from here. The courts were also located here. Access to the building is provided through 5 doors. The building is divided into three sections by columns. On the west side, there is a richly furnished tribune where the judges provide justice. There are horse-drawn statues and marble blocks inside the place. Photographer: Ekrem Canli via Wikimedia.

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