Stabiae was an ancient Roman town, located close to the modern town of Castellammare di Stabia approximately 4.5 km southeast of Pompeii, on a 50 m high headland overlooking the Bay of Naples. 16 km from the eruption vent on Mount Vesuvius, this seaside resort was largely destroyed by 2 metres of tephra ash fall from the 79 AD eruption.
Originally a small port, by the 6th century BC it had already been overshadowed by the much larger port at Pompeii. The town was destroyed by Lucius Cornelius Sulla on 30 April 89 BC during the Social War, a revolt by many of Rome's allies in the area. The Roman author and admiral Pliny the Elder recorded that the town was rebuilt and became a popular resort for wealthy Romans. He reported that there were several miles of luxury villas built along the edge of the headland, all enjoying panoramic views out over the bay.
According to the account written by his nephew, Pliny the Elder was at the other side of the bay in Misenum when the eruption started. He travelled by galley across the bay, partly to observe the eruption more closely, and partly to rescue people from the coast near the volcano. Unable to land to carry out the rescue because of volcanic debris blocking the shoreline, he continued south to Stabiae.
Pliny died at Stabiae the following day, probably during the arrival of sixth and largest pyroclastic surge of the eruption caused by the collapse of the eruption plume. The very dilute outer edge of this surge was the only one to reach Stabiae and left two centimetres of ash on top of the tephra fall deposits.
Excavation of the ruins was started in 1749 and continues to the present day.
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