What You Need to Know about Pompeii’s Rich History

The tragic events that took place in Pompeii in 79 AD are no secret to the world. The eruption that wiped out the entire city, as well as other surrounding settlements will always live in infamy. However, the rediscovery of this immaculately preserved ancient city brought the secrets of the past to light in a way we never could have imagined possible.

The Warning Signs

Pompeii’s bad luck did not start with the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD, or at least not directly. 17 years earlier the town’s very foundations were shaken by a series of earthquakes which drove thousands of the locals out. Though no one at the time could have guessed this, these earth tremors were just a speck in the face of the terrible eruption to come. They did serve a purpose though, because even though it was almost two decades prior to the eruption, many of the evacuees didn’t return, having set up their new lives in nearby cities like modern Naples. In the end the volcano took approximately 2000 lives and wiped the town off the map. While you would imagine this to be the end of Pompeii’s tragic story, centuries passed and the preserved city was uncovered. To this day there are still parts of the city covered by the blanket of debris from almost 2000 years ago.

Pompeii Before the Eruption

While these are generally the facts that come to mind when thinking of Pompeii, the town actually had a rich history leading up to all of this. Founded in 6th century BC by the Oscans, this town sat at the heart of an important crossroads between the Greek towns of Cumae, Nola and Stabiea. Thus began the battles for this tactically placed town, because it acted as a central hub to the surrounding towns. The 5th century saw Pompeii fall to the Samnites, who immediately began to develop the town, evidence of which can still be seen today in the architecture. It wasn’t until 400 BC that the Samnite Wars took place and Rome’s mighty forces took control of the town. Pompeii remained faithful to Rome for a number of wars to come and was still under Rome’s rule when Mt Vesuvius engulfed the town in ash and rock.

To visit Pompeii is to take a step into ancient history. Understanding all that went into this fascinating destination enhances the experience tenfold, and though one can only speculate what life was like in many other ancient civilizations, Pompeii gives us concrete evidence of the way of life of ancient Rome.

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