How Many People Live In Pompeii

Population Before Eruption

The city of Pompeii was one of the most prosperous cities in the Roman Empire before it was buried by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It was estimated that approximately 20,000 people lived in Pompeii before the eruption. The largest of all the towns in the Roman region of Campania, by the mid-1st century AD, the city had grown to over 5,000 acres, 175 blocks and at least 2,000 individual buildings, proving it to have been a bustling metropolis.
The city had an important social and economic role within the Roman Empire, as it had an expansive harbor and an important road connection with Rome, making it the region’s commercial hub. Many fertile fields around the city, and the large size of the population all suggest it was thriving, with citizens enjoying a high quality of life.

Life Interrupted

The sudden and violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD changed life for the people of Pompeii. At midnight on August 24, Mount Vesuvius began to erupt and unleashed a powerful mix of ash and pumice over Pompeii and Herculaneum, killing anyone who failed to escape in time. Those who did not, were entombed in the ash and mud along with the many animals and possessions the people left behind.
The thick layer of volcanic matter engulfed the city and destroyed most of the buildings and homes, burying the city under many feet of ash and pumice. Although many managed to escape, an estimated 1,000-2,000 people were left in the city as the clouds of ash that obscured the sky descended on them.

Casts of the Victims

When archaeologists began to excavate the ruins of Pompeii, molds of victims’ corpses were among the first artifacts to be discovered. In 1748, wall paintings began to be uncovered, and it soon became apparent that some of the city’s inhabitants had been preserved in time. While life had moved on for people around the world, for those in Pompeii and Herculaneum, time had been suspended.
The casts of the victims have served as an important testimony to what happened to the people of Pompeii, and are amongst the most important historical artifacts. It is estimated that up to 1,150 bodies were entombed in the ruins of Pompeii, making this one of the most compelling archaeological sites to date.

Documenting the Disasters Aftermath

Archaeological explorations at Pompeii and Herculaneum have enriched our understanding of life in the Roman world. Invaluable information has been revealed regarding Roman culture, religion, architecture, and daily life. As much of this data has been documented and collected, there are no longer just stories and legends concerning the horrors of the eruption, but there is actual evidence. Although the city stands eerily in the shadow of the still active volcano, the wealth of archaeological records at the site tells a vivid story of the city’s demise.
The majority of the victims were found with their possessions still intact, so the artifacts, coins and other materials at the site give us a unique opportunity to learn about the city’s history, as well as about the individuals affected by the eruption.

Analysis of the Data

By analyzing the bodies recovered from the site, archaeologists discovered that the vast majority of the victims were 40 years of age or younger when they died. This is thought to be due to the fact that those over 40 were most likely the wealthier members of the city, able to organize and pay for the resources they needed to escape. It has also been theorized that the elderly may have taken longer to decide whether or not to evacuate, and this delay contributed to their deaths.
The analysis of the data discovered at Pompeii also provides insight on the socioeconomic condition of the city. The archaeological findings suggest that there were large differences between the wealthy and the poor, as the majority of the artifacts were only found in the richer households.


The discovery of the lost city of Pompeii has provided generations of archaeologists and historians the opportunity to understand the past. By reconstructing the ruins and examining the remains of the city, scientists are able to gain invaluable information about everyday life in Roman times. It has been estimated that around 20,000 people lived in Pompeii before the eruption, and an estimated 1,150 of these perished in the eruption. The archaeological artifacts found at the site have provided a unique insight into the city’s wealthy population as well as the poor, and have offered insight on the events leading up to and following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Architecture of Pompeii

The ruins at Pompeii are extremely important to the archaeological world. Before the eruption, the city boasted many impressive and resilient buildings, indicating the city’s wealth. The two main building materials used were stone and brick. Stone was used mainly in the best neighborhoods, while brick was used in houses of the lower classes. These two materials combined in the exterior walls of many of the buildings, while cement and mortar were used to hold the walls together.
The most distinct feature of the architecture at Pompeii is that of the ancient Roman atrium style of home. This atrium, otherwise known as the “peristyle”, was the typical home of the Pompeian upper classes. The peristyle consisted of a large garden courtyard surrounded by a roof and porticoes. This semi-enclosed area allowed for the circulation of fresh air and direct sunlight.

Art and Sculptures

The art at Pompeii was extremely varied, featuring painting, mosaics and sculptures. Statues made in marble and bronze were affixed at the entrances of homes, tombs and public baths, while the walls of homes and other buildings were adorned with beautiful paintings and mosaics.
The art decorations depicted various figures and scenes, ranging from still-lifes to wild animals and even images of mythical creatures. Some of the artwork was very sensual in nature, featuring erotic scenes, which would have been unexpected in a society deeply rooted in traditional, religious values.

Significance of the Ruins

Today, the ruins of Pompeii are protected by the Archeological Park of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite its grim history, the ruins at Pompeii remain to be an extremely popular tourist destination. The site is of great importance to historians and archaeologists who study the past, as the Pompeian ruins provide an invaluable insight into Roman life.
The city also serves to be an important reminder of the destructive forces of nature. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius that caused the destruction of Pompeii is the most famous of all volcanic eruptions, and the ruins of the city are a stark reminder of the power of volcanic activity.

Socioeconomic Legacy

The ruins of Pompei have also left a legacy in terms of socioeconomic conditions. When the city was first excavated, the pristine state of artifacts left behind from the perished citizens provided an insight into the economic condition of the time. While the wealthy had access to the resources needed for them to evade death, the poor of Pompeii were not so lucky. This has shed light on the extreme divide between the upper and lower classes of the time.
The significance of the artwork and sculptures found at the site also serves as a testimony to the level of sophistication the people of Pompeii had achieved. The sensual art reflects the growing acceptance of human expression in Roman art, which was a clear indication of a shift in societal norms.

Pompeii in Popular Culture

Since its discovery in 1748, Pompeii has become a site of fascination for filmmakers, authors and artists. Numerous stories, books and even films have been produced about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and of the people of Pompeii. Popular works include the book ‘Pompeii’ by Robert Harris and the film of the same name directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. The ruins of Pompeii have also been featured in various video games, including the Assassin’s Creed series, where players are able to explore the city’s ruins.
Though the tragedy of the destruction of the city is inescapable, the idea that such a place of wonder can be admired by future generations is something to be celebrated. It is no doubt that the legacy of Pompeii will live on well into the future.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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