Pompeii
Bookmark and Share




Pompeii

Site Information

Country: Italy
State: Campania
Location: 40° 45' 0" N - 14° 29' 6" E
Field Documentation Date(s): March 11th, 2003
Project Release Date(s): January 9th, 2006
Time Range: 700 BCE - 79 CE
Era: Etruscan, Samnite, Hellenistic, Roman
Culture: Roman
Site Authority: Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei
Heritage Listing: World Monuments Fund 100 Most Endangered Sites for 2008
UNESCO World Heritage Site
world map with location

Plan of the Temple of Jupiter at the Forum, created from laser scan data

Site Description

more

Pompeii is located on a plateau formed by an ancient lava deposit southeast of the volcano Mt. Vesuvius. The city's site is also a short distance north of the Sarno River and east of the Bay of Naples. This location ensured the city's role as a center of commerce. Pompeii proper is enclosed by two miles of walls that encompass 9 hectares (23 acres), though the city itself extended beyond the walls with suburbs that melded into fertile farmlands known for their vineyards and olive orchards. Within this beautiful countryside many wealthy Romans placed their summer homes. However, it was Pompeii's proximity to Mt. Vesuvius that ensured the city's place in history.
return to top


History

more

Pompeii grew from a settlement of Oscan speaking descendants of the Neolithic inhabitants of Campania. Pre-Roman Pompeii, as a part of Campania, was a recipient of a complex set of cultural influences: Etruscans from the north, Greek colonists from the south, and Samnites and other Italic peoples all around.

At the end of the Samnite Wars in 310 BCE, Campania became a part of the Roman confederation as an independent ally. Siding against Rome in the Social War, Pompeii was defeated by Sulla in 89 BCE. By 80 BCE it became integrated into Rome as a colony; Pompeii's citizens received Roman citizenship and the city's institutions, architecture, and culture were Romanized. At its height, Pompeii had a thriving economy based on trade and agriculture, and the city supported between 10,000 and 20,000 inhabitants.

This was all to change when on CE 24 August 79, when a major volcanic eruption from Mt. Vesuvius covered the city in ash and pumice, causing roofs to collapse. For several days the fiery torrent, which spewed a column of ash 32km (20mi) into the sky, rained down on Pompeii, encasing the bodies of the remaining inhabitants and all of their artifacts in twenty three feet of volcanic debris. Pompeii, along with its neighbor Herculaneum, slowly passed into vague legend. It was not until a peasant digging a well in the eighteenth century accidentally discovered Herculaneum that people realized the legends and stories were true, and the first official excavation soon took place in 1748 - seventeen centuries after the city's burial. As a result of this extraordinary disaster that preserved so much under volcanic ash, Pompeii was the first ancient site in the world to be investigated by archaeological methods resembling modern ones. Many of the principles of archaeology were formed at the Pompeii site due to its early discovery during Europe's science-oriented Enlightenment period; excavation has continued intermittently to this day.

In 1860, the archaeological survey of the city was rationalized by Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli, who became the director of excavations. Fiorelli developed a plan that is still used today. He created nine regions within the walls of the site which are subdivided into insulae or blocks. Within Pompeii, public buildings are grouped into three clusters. The forum and its surrounding buildings in the southwest corner of the city form the civic and religious center; the baths, theatre, odium, small palaestra or gym, and sanctuaries to various gods are close by. Adjacent to this cluster is the second group, a triangular colonnade housing the oldest temple in the city. The third group of buildings, notably the amphitheater and a large palaestra, is located in the southeast corner of the city. The old Oscan settlement has been identified as a quarter of tightly knit, small blocks in the southwest part of the city. This zone was enlarged in several stages. The last expansion phase came under the Romans when the forum took its final shape, the baths and theatre complex were remodeled, and the amphitheater was built.

Pompeii was an architectural crossroad between the Italic north and the Greek south. Many of Pompeii's buildings are hybrids between these two styles. Although Greek and Roman influences attempted to regularize the city form by creating axial roads and a city grid, Pompeii's urban form is predominantly irregular because of the pre-historic lava flow that constitutes its base. In Pompeii's final phase, the Romans sought to establish some overriding urban order. They established two decumani, major east-west streets known as the Via di Nola and the Via dell'Abbondanza, and one cardo, the major north-south street known as the Via di Stabia.

Pompeii is an indispensable resource for understanding the complex fabric of the classical world. The architecture and urbanism of Pompeii reveals pre-Roman, colonial Roman, and imperial Roman building traditions. Magnificent public spaces, buildings, and an extensive number of well-preserved private homes make Pompeii one of the world's most valuable heritage sites. Only in Pompeii is it possible to trace the history of Italian and Roman domestic architecture for at least four centuries
return to top


Project Narrative

more

In 2003, students and faculty from the Research Center for the Development of Integrated Automatic Procedures for Restoration of Monuments (DIAPReM) of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ferrara, teamed with the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei to execute a digital documentation of the Forum. It is believed that this is the first time that high definition laser scanning served to document a cultural heritage site. The Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ferrara was the first academic institution in the world to adopt and incorporate high definition laser scanning into their research and curriculum. The goals of the project at the Forum of Pompeii were to create a precisely detailed model for purposes of cultural resource management and visualization. In addition to high definition laser scan survey, the team executed stereo-photogrammetry, photographic survey for GIS, and a topographical survey. The project was funded by the University of Ferrara and by the Kacyra Family Foundation.
return to top


3D point cloud of the Arc of Drusus at the Forum, created from laser scan data

Preservation

more

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Pompeii experienced disastrous conservation and preservation techniques. The site was first excavated with a single intent: for the fine art and artifacts to be removed from the site and shipped to Naples and placed under ownership of the Bourbon king and housed in the Museo Nazionale, where they remain today. It was an expedition for valuable art, not a preservation or historical study of the site. For years the site was stripped of paintings and frescos, and thus artifacts and buildings are now destroyed or irreparably damaged; the only consolation is that the head archaeologists, who often urged against these tactics, managed to make detailed designs and descriptions of the buildings being unearthed. In 1806, Naples came under French control and the site had new management that instigated new techniques and procedures that were far more organized. Nevertheless, preservation was largely viewed as excavation, and this point of view continued well into the first half of the 20th century. As the world's first archeological site, Pompeii was where practices, both good and bad, were first established, and where the concept of preservation was nurtured.

Today Pompeii leads the world in experience in best practices in archaeology and in preservation. Moreover, the site must face the challenges of being one of the most visited sites in the world. An abundance of tourists is a preservation challenge in and of itself. And the Soprintenza must constantly balance the need for public access and education with the need for protection and preservation. In 1980 an earthquake, once again, damaged and threatened structures. Today, excavation is no longer equated with preservation and is recognized as act that exposes ancient artifacts to erosion from sun, wind, and human activity. At Pompeii to date, 44 of 66 hectares have been excavated. And it has been decided by the Soprintenza that the remaining 22 will be untouched for our time and left for future generations.
return to top


Area Descriptions

more
Region VII
Insula IX
Eumachia
Macellum
Sanctuary of the Public Lares
Temple of Vespasian
Insula VII
Temple of Apollo
Insula VIII - The Forum
Arc of Drusus
Arc of Nero
Portico
Temple of Jupiter
Via Dell Abbondanza
Via Porta Marina
Region VIII
Insula I
Basilica
Public Administration

Region VII

Region VII Description:

The 7th and 8th Regions are nestled between the Via di Stabia and an uneven steep area of ancient lava flow adjacent to the Sarno river.


return to area list


Insula IX

Insula IX Description:

Belonging to Region VII and housing the Sanctuary of the Public Lares, the Eumachia, the Macellum, and the Temple of Vespasian.


return to area list


Eumachia

Eumachia Description:

This Exchange, used for wool and cloth, had its street-side wall washed in white to serve as a posting for public notices. It was named for Eumachia, an upper class priestess, daughter of a wealthy brickmaking family and wife of a successful vintner. After the earthquake of 62 AD, she paid for the construction of this building to house the fullers' (fabric dealers/cleaners) guild. The fullers later commissioned a statue of her in gratitude for her patronage.


return to area list


Macellum

Macellum Description:

The chief food market that was the only blatantly commercial space in the forum. It was decorated with 17 statues on pedestals facing the building and statues on marble bases at the end of the row of shops that lined the front. Macellum means "all that related to food."


return to area list


Sanctuary of the Public Lares

Sanctuary of the Public Lares Description:

Built after the AD 62 earthquake, it was dedicated to the Lares, the guardian deities of the city; however, there is some question as to whether or not it is dedicated to the Lares or Emperor Nero who visited the city after the quake. It is the last monument built around the forum and the niches that surrounded the sanctuary hosted a gallery of statues representing the members of the Imperial Family.


return to area list


Temple of Vespasian

Temple of Vespasian Description:

Although this temple was never completed before the destruction of the city it is clear that it was in use. Its central figure was a bull being led to sacrifice, a suitable sacrifice for an emperor, and its back altar was decorated with an oak wreath and laurel branches, the symbol of Emperor Vespasian. The Emperor, who was kind to the citizens of Pompeii and did much for them, died the same year as the city's destruction.


return to area list


Insula VII

Insula VII Description:

Belonging to Region VII and housing the Temple of Apollo.


return to area list


Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo Description:

The temple was Delphic in style as it contained the omphalos, a conical stone associated with Apollo that represented the center of the earth in Delphi. The walls also had a tripod painted on them, replicating the one the priestess at Delphi sat upon. The temple is a reminder of the close relationship between Pompeii and the Greeks.


return to area list


Insula VIII - The Forum

Insula VIII - The Forum Description:

The heart of the city's religious, economic, and municipal life, the Forum was surrounded by the Portico and closed to wheeled traffic. It is 142m x 38m in dimension and is built so that Mt. Vesuvius dominates its central axis, which is also aligned to the Temple of Jupiter.


return to area list


Arc of Drusus

Arc of Drusus Description:

A celebratory arch dedicated to Drusus; one of two arches built on either side of the Temple of Jupiter in the Forum whose construction inaugurated the arrival of the Imperial dynasty of Augustus and his successors.


return to area list


Arc of Nero

Arc of Nero Description:

A broad, high arch dedicated to Nero situated at the northeastern entrance to the Forum. On the street side a pair of square headed niches was outfitted with pipes and basins which eventually became the main water supply for the neighborhood.


return to area list


Portico

Portico Description:

A two-story colonnade that surrounded the open forum. Fifty statues of leading citizens stood in front. After an earthquake in 62 AD, the tufa paving that covered the main square was slowly replaced with slabs of travertine; this was still incomplete at the time of Mt. Vesuvius' eruption in 79 AD.


return to area list


Temple of Jupiter

Temple of Jupiter Description:

The temple dates back to the second century BC. When Pompeii became a Roman colony in 80 BC, the temple was transformed into a Capitolium dedicated to the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Placed upon a high podium, approximately ten feet tall, its axis formed the formal axis of and focal point of the Forum; it had two series of double columns dividing it longitudinally, typifying a Greek influenced Roman temple, and its back wall was veneered in marble.


return to area list


Via Dell Abbondanza

Via Dell Abbondanza Description:

This and the Via di Nola are the major east/west arteries of Pompeii. It is one of the main thoroughfares for town traffic.


return to area list


Via Porta Marina

Via Porta Marina Description:

This street connects the Forum to the Porta Marina gate and continued on toward the sea. The road was instrumental in getting goods from the port into the heart of the city.


return to area list


Region VIII

Region VIII Description:

The 7th and 8th Regions are nestled between the Via di Stabia and an uneven steep area of ancient lava flow adjacent to the Sarno river.


return to area list


Insula I

Insula I Description:

Belonging to Region VIII and housing the Basilica.


return to area list


Basilica

Basilica Description:

Located in the southwest end of the forum it is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the city as it is one of the oldest basilicas, dating from the second half the second century BC. It was the seat of law courts and business activities and was originally decorated with plasterworks that imitated stone masonry and 28 columns, nearly four feet thick and 33 feet tall, that divided it into a central nave and two aisles.


return to area list


Public Administration

Public Administration Description:

A building with three chambers at the south end of the Forum. The two side chambers appear to have been public courts for financial administrators and the police magistrates whereas the middle chamber was seemingly the Council Hall of the decurions (members of a municipal senate).


return to area list



References:

    more
  1. The Forgotten City of Pompeii. 01 December 2000. Tour Italy for the Financially Challenged. 20 January 2006 <http://touritaly.org/pompeii/pompeii-main.htm>.
  2. Amery, C. and B. Curran Jr. The Lost World of Pompeii. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002.
  3. Arnaud, B. "Le virtuel contre les menases du temps." Sciences et Avenir, no. 76: May 2005.
  4. Balzani, M., et al. "Laser Scanner 3D Survey in Archaeological Field: the Forum of Pompeii." International Conference on Remote Sensing Archaeology. 18-21 October 2004.
  5. Brion, M. Pompeii and Herculaneum: the glory and the grief. Translated by J. Rosenberg. Crown: New York, 1960.
  6. Ciro, S., Dr. E. Salerno, tr. "Pompeii: Its Discovery and Preservation." BBC History. 26 April 2003. BBC.com. 20 January 2006 <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/pompeii_rediscovered_01.shtml>.
  7. De Franciscis, A. ed. Pompeii: Monuments Past and Present. Rome: Vision S.r.l., 1995
  8. Guzzo, P.G. Pompeii. Translated by Mark Weir. Rome: "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, Napoli: Electra, Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1998.
  9. ICOMOS. "World Heritage List: Pompei and Ercolano, No. 829." Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata. 19 July 1996. UNESCO World Heritage Center. 20 January 2006 <http://whc.unesco.org/archive/advisory_body_evaluation/829.pdf>.
  10. Kostof, S. A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals. 2nd ed. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  11. Kraus, T. Pompeii and Herculaneum, Translated by Robert E. Wolf. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1973.
  12. Laurence, R. Roman Pompeii: Space and Society. London, New York: Routledge, 1994.
  13. Mackenzie, William, Alberto Pisa. Pompeii. London: A. & C. Black, 1910.
  14. Panetta, M.R., ed. Pompeii: the History, Life and Art of the Buried City. White Star Publishers, 2004.
  15. Richardson, L. Pompeii: An Architectural History. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.
  16. Wallace-Hadrill, A. Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994.
  17. Zanker, P. Pompeii: Public and Private Life (Revealing Antiquity). Translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

return to top

Credits:

more     - Daniel Chudak
            Conference Chair

     - Massimiliano Crisci
     - Marcello Balzani
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Nicola Brigo
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Guido Galvani
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Alessandro Grieco
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Federica Maietti
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Berti Marco
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Amedoeo Papi
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Nicole Santopuoli
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Valaria Savoia
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Stefano Settimo
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Monica Sorrentino
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Federico Uccelli
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Nicola Zaltron
            Architecture Faculty NubLab

     - Antonio d'Ambrosio
     - Peitro Giovanni Guzzo
     - Marco Bini
            Department of Architectural Planning

     - Giovanni Pancani
            Department of Architectural Planning

     - Francesco Tioli
            Department of Architectural Planning

CyArk
     - John Mink
            Lead Researcher