Ch.2: City of Pompei  

The city is built on a buttress that rises forty meters above the level of the sea. It is formed by a lava flow from the volcano disgorged sides, or perhaps even its crater, the prehistoric times. On this first course came later superimposed earthy layers, tufa and volcanic materials, mixed with ash and lapilli at, which partly covered and smoothed the rough edges of the original lava. Le terrain est assez inégal. The terrain is quite uneven. It shows a strong north-south gradient in the direction of the Gulf and the last part of the lower Sarno. The lava flow is being stopped suddenly, she had formed the midday side, a sheer wall; rampart, natural and inaccessible, which faced the sea. Only the extreme sector towards the sunset, the surface is roughly flat.

It was in this place that focused the Forum area and public buildings. Along the line steeper, probably due to an arm of the lava flow, passes the main road of "Via di Stabia". Although it is not yet fully clear, the scope of the wall enclosure is well recognized in all its extension. It follows the edges of the lava flow in bypassing the edges in the higher parts. The complete development of the walled enclosure measuring approximately three kilometers two hundred meters. The construction area is about 65 hectares. The plan of the fortified enclosure must necessarily bend to field requirements. From there, the irregularity of its design. The maximum extension is verified Eastern to the west, along the axis of the minimum decumani from north to south along the axis of "megrim.

The main square of the Forum does not occupy the center of the city. It is located in the plain and sunniest part, that is to say, in the southwest sector, very little distance from walls and one of the gates of the city, Porta Marina. In the tight agglomeration of houses, few open spaces and are they still at the periphery and in the outlying areas. Thus, on the south-western edge of the hill, stood on a small esplanade an enclosure, dedicated to the cult of Venus, the most honored deities. Similarly, further south, on a bearing formed by the volcanic bench stood since the late sixth century BC, a Greek temple architecture. Later, they surrounded a triangular frame which made the second Forum of the city and we connected it to theaters, located in against-low. Finally, towards the southeastern tip in an angle drawn by the enclosure wall, was reserved for a larger space V "Amphitheatre", that isolated private houses

Apart from these sites, for public buildings, no exists in Pompeii that more or less spacious junctions the compita ", at the points of crossing of three or four streets, trivia 'and quadrivia'. In short, except for the Forum and these some eccentric places, the regulatory plan of the city was mainly formed by the network tight streets.
These were almost all drawn in a straight line and cut at a right angle. They broke into arteries main which corresponded to former cardines and decumani,. All were lined a sidewalk, more or less high. About paving, it was made of stone of Vesuvius polygonal blocks, often cut by large slabs in order to facilitate a sidewalk to wallowing the passage of pedestrians.


In terms of materials used in construction and architecture principles, Pompeii different cities that experienced under the Empire, a long period of life and who thus acquired a uniform appearance. In Pompei, the least attentive observer sees rising before him, despite the apparent uniformity of the streets, the most varied types of construction; solemn and massive buildings built of dressed stone facades ("opus quadratum"), extracted from the alluvial deposits of Sarno or cut in the mass characteristic of Nocera tuff; masonry made of pumice, lava and tufa (opus incertum ), whose cohesion was ensured by excellent mortar masonry mesh (opus reticulatum) executed with great care, to the extent that the manufacturer has repeatedly taken advantage of the construction to draw decorative patterns, geometric forms, tuff alternating with other stones of various colors, brick masonry and many facades decorated with stucco and frescoes same, applying the same methods and within homes.

If we now enters the interior of the buildings, it is quick to distinguish very different elements, both in the wall structure in the architectural parts. It is not uncommon for juxtapose and intertwine an inorganic way. This disparity characterizes the Pompeian architecture. It provides us with the best documentation that we can have on the development of the city. The diversity of materials used and the variety in the character of the buildings we trace all the urban history of Pompeii during the six centuries of its existence, that is to say from the late sixth century BC until the year 79 AD.

As for the ages, we can fix them approximately as follows:
Pre-Samnite era (limestone "opus quadratum"): VI'-V centuries BC J.-C.
First time Samnite (limestone and volcanic material) (quadratum and incertum opus opus): VI'-third centuries BC. J.-C; AD;
Second Samnite era (tuff): 200-80 BC. J.-C; AD;
Start of Roman colonization ("opus reticulatum" and "quasi reticulatum"): 80 BC. J.-C. - 14 ans ap. AD - 14 AD. J.-C; AD; Roman and Imperial period ("opus mixtum" and bricks): 14-79 years AD.