Pompeii (pŏmpā´, Ital. pōmpĕ´ē), ancient city of S Italy, a port near Naples and at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius. Possibly an old Oscan settlement, it was a Samnite city for centuries before it passed under Roman rule at the time of Lucius Cornelius Sulla (1st cent. BC). Pompeii was not only a flourishing port but a prosperous and cosmopolitan resort with many villas. An earthquake in AD 63 did much damage, and an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 (which was described by Pliny the Younger) buried Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and Stabiae, under cinders and ashes that preserved the ruins of the city with magnificent completeness—down to the fresh colors of the wall paintings.

The long-forgotten site of the city was rediscovered in 1748 and has been sporadically excavated since that time. The habits and manners of life in Roman times have been revealed in great detail at Pompeii by the plan of the streets and footpaths, the statue-decorated public buildings, and the simple shops and homes of the artisans. The houses and villas have yielded rare and beautiful examples of Roman art. Among the most famous are the house of the Vetti, the villa of the Mysteries, and, in the suburbs of Pompeii, the villa of the Boscoreale.

See A. W. Van Buren, A Companion to the Study of Pompeii and Herculaneum (1933); M. Brion, Pompeii and Herculaneum (tr. 1960); A. Maiuri, Pompeian Wall Paintings (1960); D. Taylor, Pompeii and Vesuvius (1969); M. Grant, Cities of Vesuvius (1971); W. Jongman, The Economy and Society of Pompeii (1988); P. Zanker, Pompeii: Public and Private Life (tr. 1999); J. Berry, The Complete Pompeii (2007); M. Beard, The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found (2009); E. de Albentis, Secrets of Pompeii: Everyday Life in Ancient Rome (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Pompeii: A Sourcebook
Alison E. Cooley; M. G. L. Cooley.
Routledge, 2004
FREE! Pompeii: Its Life and Art
August Mau; Francis W. Kelsey.
Macmillan, 1907 (Revised edition)
Unpeeling Pompeii
Fulford, Michael; Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew.
Antiquity, Vol. 72, No. 275, March 1998
Lost Cities and Vanished Civilizations
Robert Silverberg.
Chilton, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Pompeii"
Uncovering the Past: A History of Archaeology
William H. Stiebing Jr.
Prometheus Books, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "The Discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum" begins on p. 145
From Mycenae to Constantinople: The Evolution of the Ancient City
Richard Tomlinson.
Routledge, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Pompeii"
The Mute Stones Speak: The Story of Archaeology in Italy
Paul MacKendrick.
St. Martin's Press, 1960
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "The Victims of Vesuvius"
The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii
Roger Ling.
Clarendon Press, vol.1, 1997
Ancient Muses: Archaeology and the Arts
John H. Jameson; John E. Ehrenhard; Christine A. Finn.
University of Alabama Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Pompeii: A Site for All Seasons"
FREE! Herculaneum, Past, Present & Future
Charles Waldstein; Leonard Shoobridge.
MacMillan, 1908
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "The Earthquake of 63 A.D. and the Eruption of 79 A. D."
The Archaeology of Household Activities
Penelope M. Allison.
Routledge, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Pompeian Household Assemblages" begins on p. 58
Light, Space and Affluent Taste: Ancient Pompeian Houses and Their Decoration
Masters, S.
Akroterion, Annual 2009
Natural Disasters and Cultural Change
Robin Torrence; John Grattan.
Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Recurring Tremors: The Continuing Impact of the AD 79 Eruption of Mt Vesuvius"
The Earth Machine: The Science of a Dynamic Planet
Edmond A. Mathez; James D. Webster.
Columbia University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Vesuvius: The Anatomy of an Explosive Eruption" begins on p. 121
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