Digging Deeper into Pompeii’s Past
New research is uncovering the ancient city’s dynamic story from its origins to the eruption that buried it
The emperor Nero is thought to have visited the southern Italian city of Pompeii in A.D. 64, perhaps spending a few nights in the enormous villa his wife, Poppaea, owned in the nearby town of Oplontis. Nero would have seen a city struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake two years earlier. “Pompeii was a city in crisis and flux,” says archaeologist Stephen Kay of the British School at Rome. The Pompeians labored to fix damaged roads, repaint walls whose frescoes had been ruined, rebuild their homes, revitalize the city’s infrastructure, repair its cemeteries, and construct what they were confident would be a new, earthquake-proof temple to their patron goddess, Venus.