Amphitheatre of Pompeii

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Amphitheatre of Pompeii
Pompeji - Arena.jpg
LocationPompeii, Campania, Italy
Coordinates40°45′5″N 14°29′42″E / 40.75139°N 14.49500°E / 40.75139; 14.49500
Length135 metres (443 ft)
Width104 metres (341 ft)
Foundedc. 70 BC
Abandoned79 AD, Eruption of Vesuvius
Site notes
Excavation dates1748, 1813-16 [1]

The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is one of the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatres. It is located in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, and was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, that also buried the city of Pompeii and the neighbouring town of Herculaneum.

Six bodies were found during the excavations.[2]

Design and construction[edit]


Built around 70 BC, the amphitheatre is one of the earliest Roman amphitheatres built of stone; previously, they had been built out of wood.[3]

Contemporarily, it was known as a spectacula rather than an amphitheatrum, since the latter term was not yet in use at the time. It was built with the private funds of Gaius Quinctius Valgus and Marcus Porcius (a relative of Julius Caesar's rival).

The design is seen by some modern crowd control specialists as near-optimal. Its washroom, located in the neighbouring palaestra has also been cited as an inspiration for better bathroom design in modern stadiums.

The amphitheatre measures 135m long and 104m wide. The arena (pit) is measured to be 6m below ground level. The only internal features of the amphitheatre at Pompeii were a corridor that cut into the base of cavea. This corridor ran the circumference of the amphitheatre and is used to access the arena.[4]

Fresco depicting the riot between the Nucerians and the Pompeians around the Amphitheatre of Pompeii, National Archaeological Museum, Naples

Gladiatorial contests[edit]

The preservation of Pompeii and its amphitheatre have given insights into the gladiatorial culture of Rome. Around 59 AD, a deadly brawl occurred between Pompeiians and residents of Nuceria during games in the amphitheatre, resulting in a 10-year ban on such events.[5]


The amphitheater was damaged by an earthquake in 62 AD. The magistrate Cuspius Pansa and his son undertook its restoration.[6]

Modern uses[edit]

Aside from being a historical landmark and an object of archaeological study, the amphitheatre has been used for concerts and other public events in modern times. Over a 4-day period in October 1971, Pink Floyd made a concert film at the amphitheatre, titled Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. David Gilmour, the band's guitarist, returned to perform two concerts at the amphitheatre in July 2016 as part of his Rattle That Lock Tour.

Pink Floyd live in Pompeii

In September 1991, Frank Sinatra was granted special permission by the site's chief archaeologist to perform in the amphitheatre.[7]

In 2015 a temporary museum was installed in the centre of the amphitheater. The pyramidal structure was designed to resemble Mount Vesuvius, and housed the installation "Pompeii and Europe from 1748 to 1943", which displayed casts of 20 victims of the eruption and photographs of the excavations.

Gilmour's 2016 concerts saw the first public performances in the amphitheatre since 79 AD[8] and can be seen on the live album/video Live at Pompeii.

In 2018, the venue hosted a live performance to an audience by progressive rock group King Crimson.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Overbeck 1884, p. 178.
  2. ^ Impact of the AD 79 explosive eruption on Pompeii, II. Causes of death of the inhabitants inferred by stratigraphic analysis and areal distribution of the human casualties Giuseppe Luongoa et al., Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 126 (2003) p192 doi:10.1016/S0377-0273(03)00147-1
  3. ^ "Architecture at Pompeii".
  4. ^ "Pompeii's Amphiteatre".
  5. ^ Tacitus (c. 100). "ch. 1". Annals, Book 14.
  6. ^ Jacobelli 2003, p. 56.
  7. ^ "OL' BLUE EYES TO PLAY THE RUINS OF POMPEII". Deseret News. Aug 1, 1991. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  8. ^ Barton, Laura (2016-07-10). "David Gilmour review – Pompeii rocks again". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2017-11-28.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′05″N 14°29′42″E / 40.751264°N 14.494970°E / 40.751264; 14.494970 (Pompeii)