Herculaneum, Italy

Twelve kilometres south east of Napoli, modern Ercolano is a congested, tangled city build on top of the ancient structures. Ercolano was previously a peaceful fishing and port town of about 4000 and something of a resort for wealthy Romans.

Historical Herculaneum parallels that of nearby Pompeii and was submerged by the volcano of 79 AD; the difference being that it was submerged by volcanic mud and not the ash and stone that buried Pompeii. This helped to preserve it even including organic materials such as wood which in Pompeii didn't survive.

During the day, the modern town is very quiet but late afternoon when your exploring has finished, the town comes alive. Make sure you take a wander and you might find one of the best Italian fast food shops I have ever come across. Yes, the Neapolitan pizzas are just mouth-watering gorgeous but the rest that is on offer you will not find in many Italian eateries in the UK.

Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herculaneum


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.
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Herculaneum - Hall of the Augustals 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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.

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.
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