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Pompeii


            
             Pompeii is possibly the best-documented catastrophe in Antiquity. Because of it, we know now how the Pompeians lived because they left behind an extensive legacy of art, including monuments, sculptures and paintings. Pompeii lay on a plateau of ancient lava near the Bay of Naples in western Italy in a region called Campania, less than 1.6 kilometers from the foot of Mount Vesuvius. With the coast to the west and the Apennine Mountains to the East, Campania is a fertile plain, traversed by two major rivers and rich soil. However, in the early days, it was not a remarkable city. Scholars have not been able to identify Pompeii's original inhabitants. The first people to settle in this region were probably prehistoric hunters and fishers. By at least the eight century B.C., a group of Italic people known as the Oscans occupied the region; they most likely established Pompeii, although the exact date of its origin is unknown. "The root of the word Pompeii would appear to be the Oscan word for the number five, pompe, which suggests that either the community consisted of five hamlets or, perhaps, was settled by a family group (gens Pompeia)"(Kraus 7). In the course of the eight century B.C., Greek and Etruscan colonization stimulated the development of Pompeii as a city around the area of the Forum. A point for important trade routes, it became a place for trading towards the inland. Up until the middle of the 5th century B.C., the city was dominated politically by the Etruscans. In the course of the 6th century B.C., the influence of Greek culture is also documented by terracottas, ceramics and architecture. A group of warriors from Samnium, called Samnite, invaded the region in the 400's B.C. Pompeii remained a relatively unimportant village until the 200's B.C., when the town entered a prosperous period of building and expansion. The Romans defeated the Samnites, and Pompeii became part of the emerging Roman state.


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