Temple of Apollo, Pompeii, Italy, with Mount Vesuvius in the background.—Edwin Smith

Ancient city, southern Italy, southeast of Naples. Founded in the 6th century BC (or earlier) by Oscan-speaking descendants of the Neolithic inhabitants of Campania, Pompeii came under Greek and Etruscan influence and then was occupied by the Samnites, an Italic tribe, in the late 5th century BC. The city was allied with Rome and colonized by 80 BC. It was damaged by an earthquake in AD 63 and was completely destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79. Volcanic debris buried the town and protected the ruins for years. Archaeological excavations, begun in 1748, have uncovered much of the city, including forums, temples, baths, theatres, and hundreds of private homes. See also Herculaneum.

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