• The fortification walls of Pompeii
  • Pompeii
  • Pompeii
  • Italy
  • Campania
  • Naples
  • Pompei


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  • 600 BC - 79 AD


    • The city of Pompeii with its well preserved defensive walls is among the most important sites for the research on ancient fortifications in Italy. Still, apart from a variety of specialist’s studies focused on certain spots (particularly by A. Maiuri), the circuit walls have never been studied in the whole: less well known is therefore their importance for the development of the urban organism. Also missing is a comparative study, which would enable us to embed the different building periods within the existence and chronology of other fortifications in Campania. From an architectural point of view a new and entire investigation of this circuit of walls would therefore seem especially valuable since its outstanding state of preservation still permits insights in building techniques and progress. Precise recording of construction details at curtains, towers and gates can offer additional and up to now overlooked evidence and in this way help to establish a chronological framework the various building periods can be assigned to. All these different periods, from the beginning in the 6th century BC to the end 79 AD, though not assignable at the moment to exact time periods, are still at hand in Pompeii and present in substantial remains: a starting position which is on this level rare to be found elsewhere. Previous studies have dealt with the walls in a more superficial way while certain partitions have hardly been mapped in the existing topographical plans. In no way these attempts do justice to the historical significance and architectonical importance of the Oscan, Samnitic and Early Roman walls. There are many sections that have not or only summarily been recorded in drawings or photogrammetric exposures but which would deserve in fact a closer look in order to gather all available information together. Needless to say, they have not been linked to the city and its structures itself. The main objective of this project is to obtain a diachronic, detailed and overall documentation of the visible remains of the circuit walls of Pompeii. The various building periods have to be recorded carefully in their layout, composition and characteristic features. A new general plan of these walls and their adjacent structures such as ditches or the famous agger should be the result and the solid base on which new models of interpretation can be developed. Among these are the general appearance and the significance of each building phase. Furthermore, it can be expected that a documentation of this sort will represent an important contribution to our understanding of the city’s history and the history of defensive systems in the whole area. The project is part of an international research group, being initiated by Prof. F. Pesando. It is the clear objective of this venture to investigate the development of the city of Pompei by paying special attention to its defensive walls. This part of the project described here is devoted to the architectural approach while the other contributors deal with the remains from an archeological, art historian or preservation point of view.
    • The 3rd field season was carried out in March and April 2012 continuing our works on the fortifications walls of Pompeji. The team involved consisted again of architects and students of the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus and was completed by a surveyor of this university. During these three weeks measuring and documentation works focused on all remains of the city wall continued. Actual work was carried out on the part between Porta Vesuvio and Porta Ercolano, at Porta Nocera and at Porta Stabia. Continuing the analysis and rectification of the masonry techniques with the help of photogrammetrical fotos, the northern part between Porta Vesuvio and Porta Ercolano was in the focus of this analysis. Here we start to rectificate all important keys to describe the masonry technique: different materials – size of ashlars – mason marks etc. The rectification will finish in the next campaign in September 2012. Also the work on the three-dimensional mockup was continued on the basis of the processed photos. Furthermore a view from cityside of the Porta Vesuvio and the adjacent curtains was generated. The focus of the last campaigns was on the recording and documentation of the Porta Nocera, which could complete in this campaign. The scientific and architectural research on the gate – concerning the building phases and reconstruction models – was started and will finish in August carried out by architect Dirk Jerominek. The result of his master thesis will be an important key in understanding the development of the whole city. A precondition for our works in September along the southern parts of the city wall (between Porta Marina and Porta Stabia) was the existence of measuring points within that area. Consequently, the already established grid of measuring points had to be extended through the creation of new fixpoints. Finally, work focused on Porta Stabia being one of the best-preserved and most important gates of the citywall. Drawings published by A. Maiuri are difficult to understand and in some parts not precise, that’s why they were not sufficient for the purpose of modern architectural research. New recording seemed to be the only way to document the building adequately; work in this area led to two ground plans, four cross sections and one elevation. Apart from pure recording emphasis was laid on the recognition of different building phases and the observation of constructive details. As a first result, some of hitherto existing interpretations have been confirmed but in some parts corrections and additions are needed. This mainly concerns those partitions made of so-called orthostatic blocks, which seemingly belong, according to the constructive context, to a later period than the two aggerwalls. Moreover, a clear disjunction between bastion and atriumwalls proofs that these two sections have been erected in different phases. It seems obvious that the bastion precedes: the stretchers of the atrium walls make use of the slightly projecting foundation stones of the already existing bastion. Additionally A. Maiuri had claimed an exclusive usage of travertin for the erection of the first aggerwall as well as for the bastions of the gates. Now it can be said that tuff ashlars had been used in those parts of the bastions of Porta Nola, Porta Vesuvio and Porta Stabia, which were not visible from outside or covered by dirt. The same could hold true for aggerwall 1, but further investigation is needed in order to obtain final results.


    • J. Alcolea u.a., 2010, Progetto di ricerca‚ Le mura urbiche di Pompei. Un approccio globale per la ricostruzione della fisionomia urbanistica della città. Relazione preliminare.
    • C. Brasse, K. Rheidt, 2010, Das Befestigungssystem von Pompeji und seine Bedeutung für die Stadtentwicklungsgeschichte, Abschlussbericht des von der Gerda Henkel Stiftung geförderten Projektes, Cottbus.