From ANSA:

The origins of the famed buried city of Pompeii have emerged from years of excavations, an international conference in Rome was told Thursday.

The first Pompeii was not built by the Romans or even by the Greeks who preceded them, but by an ancient people called the Samnites, Pompeii heritage Superintendent Piero Guzzo told a packed audience of archaeologists and scholars.

Wielding photos of inscriptions, votive offerings and even entire buildings, Guzzo said "a new season of studies has begun". "For the first time we have come to understand how Pompeii was born and not just how it died," Guzzo told a three-day conference here on ten years of work by archaeologists from all over the world.

"The most exciting discoveries were the frescoed buildings with precious mosaics, still perfectly intact, dating back to the Samnite foundation of the city in the Third Century BC," Guzzo said.

"The fresco in the so-called House of the Centaur is one of the oldest found at Pompeii or indeed the whole of Italy," said Fabrizio Pesando of Naples' Oriental Institute.

"The true Pompeii is not the Roman one that was buried by Vesuvius in 79AD," Pesando said.

"Its golden age was in the Second Century BC, as shown by these buildings," he said.

"Pompeii has become, once again, a great laboratory for research".