31 Jul 2005 - Herculaneum, Italy
This is my second trip to Herculaneum but all my initial emotions about this place and being able to touch the past still stand. So what if I am seeing it again, it can't all be taken in on one visit and like a good book, if you read it again you will still come across something you didn't see the first time and Herculaneum is no different. With so much to see, in fact a town frozen in time, one visit will never be enough.
Herculaneum - Hall of the Augustals 1
For freed slaves, becoming Augustals meant entering the dynamics of upward mobility. Their 'board', dedicated to worshipping the emperor Augustus, held its meetings in the forum where all political, religious and commercial life took place.
Herculaneum - Hall of the Augustals 2
This inscription reminds us that the building, dedicated to Augustus (27BC - 14 AD) which still living was build by the brothers A. Lucius Proculus and A. Lucius Iulianus, who offered a luncheon to the members of the municipal senate and the Augustals on its inauguration day.
Herculaneum - Thermopolium
These very widespread buildings were thermopolia, public establishments where hot food and drink were served. This is a typical simple structure: one room opening onto the road, with a stone work surface into which were sunk dolia or jars containing the goods.
Herculaneum - Curcumas Shop
The pilaster at the entrance bear the painted sign depicting four pitchers of different colours, with drinks sold here and a listing of wine prices.
The panel with the inscription NOLA is the announcement of a show.
This shop may have been an inn where food and drink was served.
Herculaneum - Curcumas Shop, Semo Sancus
The figure at the top, Semo Sancus was said to protect business with the inscription ad Sancum.
Remarkably, the blackened structures on the left are the original timbers.
Herculaneum - Via Vardo V
The town is in typical Roman grid pattern with the two main streets Decumano Massimo and Decumano Inferiore being crossed by Cardo III, IV and V. These lead to where the ancient beach would have been.
This view is leads down to the ancient beach area.
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 nymphaeum (monument consecrated to the nymphs typically associated with water) with a small fountain while the other side which can be seen in the photo has a mosaic of Neptune and Amphitrite.
Herculaneum - Terme del Foro (Central Baths)
Divided into the men and women's sections, fine mosaics and changing rooms really bring you into the past but at the same time, everything is recognisable and shows you how little people have fundamentally changed since Roman times. This is part of the female baths, entered via Cardo IV.
2000 years ago, people sat where I am sitting now, though perhaps a little less sweaty.
Herculaneum - House with large portal
The name derives from the half columned portal, with brick and cornice built after the earthquake of 62 AD but which reuses the Hellenistic tufa capitals symbolising victory.
Herculaneum - View towards Vesuvius
Taken from where the ancient sea line would have been, we can see just how high Herculaneum was covered when it was submerged by volcanic mud.
In the background we can see Vesuvius looming large and as menacing as ever.