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The fortifications of Pompeii stand as the ancient city’s largest, oldest, and best preserved public monument. Over its 700-year history, Pompeii invested significant amounts of money, resources, and labor into re-building, maintaining, and upgrading the walls. Each intervention on the fortifications marked a pivotal event of social and political change, signalling dramatic shifts in Pompeii’s urban, social, and architectural framework. Viewing the role of the defences as purely military in nature is over-simplified. Their fate was intertwined with that of Pompeii; their construction materials, methods and aesthetics reflect the political, social, and urban development of the city. This study redefines Pompeii’s fortifications, as a central monument that physically and symbolically shaped the city. It considers the internal and external forces that morphed its appearance, and traces how the fortifications served to foster a sense of community. The defences emerge as a dynamic, ideologically freighted monument, subject to manipulation and appropriation that was critical to the image and identity of Pompeii. The book is a unique narrative of the social and urban development of the city from foundation to the eruption of Vesuvius, through the lens of the monument most critical to its independence and survival.