Pompeii is famous for the ancient ruins that remain after the city was destroyed by an eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius on August 24, A.D. 79. The eruption lasted two days and buried the city in ash and fragments of rock. Many of the inhabitants who stayed in their homes were killed by the debris while those who fled to the safety of the coast line, were killed on their return to Pompeii as gases poured out of Vesuvius.
The area was first occupied by Greek colonists in the 7th century BC. The city was founded by the Oscans on what was an important crossroad between Cumae, Nola and Stabiae.
The city was captured and occupied by the Etruscans throughout the 6th and 5th centuries BC before the Samnites conquered Pompeii and began to expand the city.
During the 4th century BC, Rome began to advance towards southern Italy and eventually Pompeii became a Roman colony called Colonia Cornelia Veneria Pompeianorum. The city remained under Roman control right up until the fatal eruption.