By Dr Joanne Berry
Last updated 2011-02-17
Shown here is Pompeii's forum, which would have been at the political, commercial and social heart of the town, as in all other Roman towns. As was typical of the time, most of the most important civic buildings at Pompeii - the municipal offices, the basilica (court-house), the principal temples (such as the Capitolium), and the macellum (market) - were located in or around the forum.
Recent archaeological work has demonstrated that in the years immediately before Vesuvius (seen in the background of the photo here) destroyed Pompeii, building work was taking place to improve the appearance of the forum. Wall-paintings in one of the houses excavated illustrate scenes from the forum, such as bustling market-stalls set up in the colonnade fronting many of the forum buildings. Such evidence highlights the importance of this area in the everyday lives of the town's inhabitants.