3 Sep 2004 - Herculaneum, Italy

The first time I was in this part of Italy I was only here for a day trip to Pompeii as I was staying in Ferrara in the north of Italy. So it was with much excitement that I arrived in Pompeii particularly as I had heard of the different method of preservation here compared to Pompeii. I wasn't disappointed. Like walking in Pompeii, my imagination ran away with what kind of place this was in its hey day and suddenly the past became so close, literally within touching distance.

People fundamentally haven't changed since the ancients. Like today, people enjoyed fine foods, eating out, gymnasiums, pampering, art and finely decorated homes. It is this, the objects and the lifestyles of the past, which connects us today with people and cultures long gone. Suddenly the past comes alive.
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Herculaneum - Above the Vaulted Rooms

Herculaneum - Above the Vaulted Rooms

These large arch structures and rooms support the terraces above. The rooms functioned as warehouses and for boat storage. Inside these vaults, 300 human skeletons have been found as a grisly reminder of the terrible events of 79AD.

These people would have been killed by the high temperatures caused by the blazing clouds emanating from the volcano. This photo is taken from land where the ancient sea would have been. One effect of the eruption was to add a strip of land to the sea approximately 400 meters wide.
Herculaneum - Terme del Foro (Central Baths)

Herculaneum - Terme del Foro (Central Baths)

Part of the male baths - I think.
Herculaneum - Part of a house

Herculaneum - Part of a house

Unfortunately I cannot remember which house this is but thought it would be a good photo. At the rear of the photo can be seen a small shrine but the house has the typical shape with garden in the middle.
Herculaneum - House of the Beautiful Courtyard

Herculaneum - House of the Beautiful Courtyard

Dating from the 1st Century AD, the layout of this building is unusual in that the atrium is replace by an interior, mosaic embellished courtyard, which acts as a landing to the various rooms that open onto it and a staircase with ornamental motifs leading to the upper floor.
Herculaneum - House of Neptune and Amphitrite

Herculaneum - House of Neptune and Amphitrite

This dwelling draws one's attention to the rich decoration of the summer triclinium (a room with 3 seating areas leaving a side free for servant access).

One side has a mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite while the other side which can be seen in the photo is nymphaeum (monument consecrated to the nymphs typically associated with water). This area had a small fountain.
Herculaneum - Carbonised bed

Herculaneum - Carbonised bed

Unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was covered in scorching mud which carbonised the outside of organic materials but also extracted the water thus preserving the matter. This example is of an actual bed which brings home the reality of the fact that what we are walking through here is the site of a great human disaster. People like ourselves who enjoyed similar kinds of things as we do today met their deaths here.
Comment Icon Comments

Carol - 15 Nov 2012, 14:34:52

Thanks for this blog. Just read (11/15/2012) a NYTimes article on Herculaneum and your photos really brought it alive for me.

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