World ? Europe ? Italy ? Pompeii

Pompeii: Introduction

27km (17 miles) SE of Naples

Pompeii is Italy's most famous archaeological site and with good reason: With an excavated area of 44 hectares (almost 109 acres), Pompeii is unique in the world. No other ancient town has been brought to light so completely. Discovered by chance during excavations for a canal in the 16th century, the ruins of Pompeii were not recognized for what they were until further explorations in the 18th century. Scientific excavations started only at the end of the 19th century, but continued steadily until most of the ancient town was uncovered and are still ongoing today. Based on calculation of the city walls -- only partly excavated -- Pompeii covered an area of 66 hectares (163 acres). Originally an Etruscan and then a Sannite town, it was colonized by the Romans in 80 B.C. At the time of the eruption, experts estimate the town counted about 35,000 inhabitants.

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