HAL 2019 World – Day 84 Part 2 Herculaneum

April 18, 2019 Paul Groves

We had a nice view of Mt. Vesuvius from the ship.  On the way to Herculaneum, we passed a cafe with the same name.

Both Pompeii and Herculaneum (Ercolano) are near Mt. Vesuvius, but while Pompeii was covered with ash, Herculaneum was covered with a hot mud like flow that turned to rock (a pyroclastic flow). The layers of rock that covered this city can be seen in the tall wall that borders the excavation.  Some of the carbonized wood remains in place but the entire city had to be dug out of solid rock making the excavation of Herculaneum a slow enterprise.

Additionally, while Pompeii was discovered in the country, Herculaneum is located in a current city, so the excavated portion is only the size of a large park.  Much of the ancient city is still buried.

Herculaneum was a residential rather than an industrial center.  The residences are larger and were originally nicely decorated with mosaic floors and frescos on the walls.

There was no source of fresh water in the early residences so a central atrium was important to capture rainwater through a window above a pool.  Later, Romans introduced aqueducts which allowed the home builders to add gardens, larger rooms, and sometimes balconies inside and out.

The roads were large cobblestones and the lack of ruts made by ancient carts indicates that these roads were traveled by foot or perhaps people on horseback.  You can also see in this photo how the modern city borders this excavation.

Work to restore and continually excavate this site continues.  We saw a group working in The College of the Augustales on a shrine depicting mythological scenes involving Hercules.  The area in the back probably housed a statue of the emperor, but the statue was never found.

A dramatic portion of the city is the row of boathouses that were originally near the beach.  Skeletons (mostly women and children) were found in these enclosures.  These were families waiting for the men to bring the boats to escape the eruption.  The bones we see are reproductions made of fiberglass.  Our guide said that these people probably died of the poisonous gases that preceded the pyroclastic flow that preserved the bones.