Pompeii: Overall view, looking into Basilica, nave and side aisles
The basilica of Pompeii is both one of the oldest such buildings to have survived in the Italic world and one of the most handsome public structures built in the Hellenistic tradition. It was at once a court, the site of political rallies and a general meeting-place, built at the end of the 2nd century BCE in accordance with standards that were to be set down and codified at a later date by the architect Vitruvius. It consisted of a wide, rectangular space (55 x 24 m) divided by colonnades into a nave and two aisles, ending in a raised podium that served as a platform for the judges. Its First Style decorations and Oscan graffiti are evidence of the building's great age.
Located SE of Naples at foot of Mount Vesuvius; possibly founded by the Oscans in 6th century BCE; ruled by Samnites, then taken by Rome ca. 80 BCE; was prosperous city and resort; damaged by earthquake in 63 CE, rebuilt; destroyed by eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. The eruption buried Pompeii under 22 meters of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery around 1592. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire.