This amphitheatre is the oldest among those known from the Roman times. Built in 70 BC, just before the colony was founded, on the initiative of magistrates Caius Quinctius Valgus and Marcus Porcius who also had the Odeon built.
It could hold up to 20,000 spectators not only from Pompeii but also from neighbouring towns. The building is located in a peripheral area so as to facilitate the movement of so many people. External staircases with two flights provide access to the upper steps and a downward corridor provides access to the lower steps. The arena is separated from the area intended for the spectators by a parapet which is decorated with frescos of gladiators; the upper part has inscriptions that are still legible with the names of the magistrates who had the steps built.
In 59 AD the cheering of the audience led to a bloody brawl between the people from Pompeii and those from Nocera.
As a result of these riots, the Senate of Rome decided to close the arena in Pompeii for ten years, however, this measure was withdrawn in 62 AD, after the disastrous earthquake struck the city.
Date of excavation: 1748; 1813-1814.