The earliest evidence dates the city’s origins to between the end of the 7th and the first half of the 6th century B.C. when the first tuff boundary wall was built. It became a Roman colony in 80 B.C. and was enlarged with private and public building particularly in the age of the Emperors Augustus (27 B.C. – 14 A.D.) and Tiberius (14-37 A.D.).
In 62 A.D. a violent earthquake struck the entire area around Vesuvius. Reconstruction work began at once in Pompeii, but, due to the extent of the damage, it took a very long time: 17 years later, when the sudden eruption of Vesuvius on 24 August 79 A.D. buried it in ashes and lapilli, it looked much like an open-air building site. It was rediscovered in the sixteenth century, but its excavation only began in 1748, under the King of Naples Charles III of Bourbon, continuing systematically in the nineteenth century, up until the most recent interventions to excavate, restore and enhance the ancient city and its outstanding heritage of architecture, sculptures, paintings and mosaics.
Pompeii’s archaeological area extends over some sixty-six hectares, of which about forty-five have been excavated. Walking through Pompeii’s excavations is a unique experience. It is like taking a journey back in time, a journey on which you can drink in the atmosphere of public life, and more especially private life, as they were lived in antiquity. The Forum was the vibrant centre of the city: a large rectangular square, paved in travertine and enclosed on three sides by a colonnade.
Standing on the square are the Capitolium, the Temple of Apollo and the Basilica, the most important public building, the seat of the court and the centre of economic life. Also looking out onto the Forum are the Temple of Vespasian, the Granaries where cereals for sale were assembled, and the Macellum, the covered market for fresh foodstuffs, such as meat and fish. The most important thoroughfare in the city, Via dell’Abbondanza, was lined with artisan workshops, taverns, inns, dye-shops, houses and the Stabian Thermal Baths, the oldest bathhouse in Pompeii. This site is included in the circuit Campania>artecard.