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Pompeii
 
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Herculaneum



Summary

Herculaneum was a seaside resort for wealthy Romans in the 1st century AD and contained many elegant residences. These were covered by lava, mud, ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The site consists of homes, shops, baths, and temples many still displaying their decorations. Part of the forum is visible, although most have still to be excavated, although this is hindered by the modern town of Ercolano being situated over the ruins.
  



During the eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which covered Pompeii with several metres of ash, the seaside town of Herculaneum was also destroyed, but by the Pyroclastic surge, a mixture of lava, mud, ash, and hot gases, (with temperatures of 500oC) which swept down on it at 100 mph. The first surge instantly caused the death of a number of people who sought shelter in the boathouses at the seashore. 

The high temperature caused their bones and teeth to fracture and skulls to explode. 

A succession of surges buried the city's buildings from the bottom up preserving their structure and the objects within. The intense heat extracted water and carbonised the organic material. The depth of the layers (20 metres) protected the town until it was discovered during the course of a well being dug in 1709. Excavations began in 1738 but were curtailed when efforts were moved to Pompeii, which presented an easier task. 

Over the years the excavations at Herculaneum were undertaken in stages, with periods during which no work was undertaken. In 1927 work commenced again and is continuing up to the present day. Nevertheless, only about 25% of the town is believed to have been excavated. The difficulty of excavation results from the hardness of the layers, (which solidified) and also the fact that the town of Ercolano is situated over the ruins, which can be seen above the ruins and the closeness of the houses can be seen in the photograph below. 

Herculaneum_Street_with_Modern_Town


Some urban clearance is now taking place in the modern town, in order to expose more of the archaeological remains and a feel for the place can be obtained by walking along the streets. 

Herculaneum_with_town_above


Herculaneum was a resort for the wealthy and contained many elegant residences. Providing an indication of the style of living of the inhabitants with beautiful decorations which are remarkably well preserved, both externally and inside the buildings. 

Herculaneum_House_and_Garden


Herculaneum_Wall_Painting_________1Herculaneum_Wall_Painting_2

The Site also contains garden furniture being in place as though it were still in use. 

Herculaneum_GardenHerculaneum_Garden_Furniture


The remains of businesses and facilities to provide for them are also to be seen. These consist of bakeries, wine merchants, temples, and shops.

Herculaneum_Shop_2Herculaneum_Shop

They also include baths - all of which provide an insight into the lives of the residents. 

Herculaneum_Baths_1Herculaneum__Baths_3

Part of the forum is visible, although most has still to be excavated. The ruins also provide an insight into the methods of construction with columns being constructed of bricks then covered in stucco, which is a fine plaster. The lead pipes used to carry water are also visible as the Romans were superb water engineers.  

Herculaneum_ConstructionHerculaneum_Water_pipes


To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.





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Addition information can be seen on Encyclopaedia Britannica



 

Copyright - All  Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain

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