The Full Wiki

Herculaneum: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


































































Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Archaeological Areas of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Torre Annunziata*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

The excavations of Ercolano
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv, v
Reference 829
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1997  (21st Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Herculaneum (in modern Italian Ercolano) is the ruins of an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in 79 AD, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano, Italy. Its ruins can be found at the co-ordinates 40°48′21″N 14°20′51″E / 40.80583°N 14.3475°E / 40.80583; 14.3475, in the Italian region of Campania in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius.

It is most famous for having been lost, along with Pompeii, Stabiae and Oplontis, in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius beginning on August 24, 79 AD, which buried them in superheated pyroclastic material that has solidified into volcanic tuff. It also became famous as the source of the first Roman skeletal and physical remains available for study that were located by science, for the Romans almost universally burned their dead. Since the discovery of bones in 1981, some 150 skeletons have been found, most along the sea shore — the town itself, being effectively evacuated. Herculaneum was a smaller town with a wealthier population than Pompeii at the time of their destruction.

Contents

History

Plan of the excavations of Herculaneum

Ancient tradition connected Herculaneum with the name of the Greek hero Herakles (Hercules in Latin and consequently Roman Mythology),[1] an indication that the city was of Greek origin. In fact, it seems that some forefathers of the Samnite tribes of the Italian mainland founded the first civilization on the site of Herculaneum at the end of the 6th century BC. Soon after, the town came under Greek control and was used as a trading post because of its proximity to the Gulf of Naples. The Greeks named the city Herculaneum. In the 4th century BC, Herculaneum again came under the domination of the Samnites. The city remained under Samnite control until it became a Roman municipium in 89 BC, when, having participated in the Social War ("war of the allies" against Rome), it was defeated by Titus Didius, a legate of Sulla.

After the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the town of Herculaneum was buried under approximately 20 meters (50-60 feet) of mud and ash. It lay hidden and nearly intact for more than 1600 years until it was accidentally discovered by some workers digging a well in 1709. From there, the excavation process began but is still incomplete. Today, the Italian towns of Ercolano and Portici lie on the approximate site of Herculaneum. Until 1969 the town of Ercolano was called Resina, and it changed its name to Ercolano, the Italian modernization of the ancient name in honour of the old city.

The inhabitants worshipped above all Hercules, who was believed to be the founder of both the town and Mount Vesuvius. Other important deities worshiped include Venus, who was believed to be Hercules' lover, and Apollo.

Herculaneum and other cities affected by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The black cloud represents the general distribution of ash and cinder. Modern coast lines are shown.

The eruption of 79 AD

The catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius occurred on the afternoon of August 24, 79 AD. Because Vesuvius had been dormant for approximately 800 years, it was no longer even recognized as a volcano.

Based on the archaeological excavations on the one hand and two letters of Pliny the Younger to the Roman historian Tacitus on the other hand, the course of the eruption can be reconstructed.

At around 1pm on August 27, Vesuvius began spewing ash and volcanic stone thousands of meters into the sky. When it reached the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere, the top of the cloud flattened, prompting Pliny to describe it to Tacitus as a stone pine tree. The prevailing winds at the time blew toward the southeast, causing the volcanic material to fall primarily on the city of Pompeii and the surrounding area. Since Herculaneum lay to the west of Vesuvius, it was only mildly affected by the first phase of the eruption. While roofs in Pompeii collapsed under the weight of falling debris, only a few centimetres of ash fell on Herculaneum, causing little damage but nonetheless prompting many inhabitants to flee.

Because initial excavations revealed only a few skeletons, it was long thought that nearly all of the inhabitants had managed to escape. It wasn't until 1982, when the excavations reached boat houses on the beach area, that this view changed. In 12 boat houses archaeologists discovered 250 skeletons huddled close together.

Boat houses where skeletons were found

During the night, the column of volcanic debris which had risen into the stratosphere began falling back down onto Vesuvius. A pyroclastic flow formed that sent a mixture of 400°C (750°F) gas, ash, and rock racing down at 100 mph (160 km/h) toward Herculaneum. At about 1am it reached the boat houses, where those waiting for rescue were killed instantly by the intense heat. This flow and several more following it slowly filled the city's buildings from the bottom up, causing them little damage.

The surprisingly good state of preservation of the structures and their contents is due to three factors:

  1. By the time the wind changed and ash began to fall on Herculaneum, the structures were already filled with volcanic debris. Thus the roofs did not collapse.
  2. The intense heat of the first pyroclastic flow carbonized the surface of organic materials and extracted the water from them.
  3. The deep (up to 25 meters), dense tuff formed an airtight seal over Herculaneum for 1,700 years

Excavation

The skeleton called the "Ring Lady" unearthed in Herculaneum.

Excavation began at modern Ercolano in 1738 by Spanish engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. The elaborate publication of Le Antichità di Ercolano ("The Antiquities of Herculaneum") under the patronage of the King of the Two Sicilies had an effect on incipient European Neoclassicism out of all proportion to its limited circulation; in the later 18th century, motifs from Herculaneum began to appear on stylish furnishings from decorative wall-paintings and tripod tables to perfume burners and teacups. However, excavation ceased once the nearby town of Pompeii was discovered, which was significantly easier to excavate due to the reduced amount of debris covering the site (four meters as opposed to Herculaneum's twenty meters). In the twentieth century, excavation once again resumed in the town. However, many public and private buildings, including the forum complex, are yet to be excavated.

Advertisements

Skeletal remains

The pyroclastic flow instantly killed all residents who had not escaped before it struck. In contrast to Pompeii, the remains of those killed at Herculaneum were not preserved in plaster casts.

In 1981, Italian public works employees, under the direction of Dr. Giuseppe Maggi, found bones at the Herculaneum site while digging a drainage trench. Italian officials, at Dr. Maggi's urging, called in Sara C. Bisel, a physical anthropologist from the United States, to oversee the excavation and study the bones. This research was funded with a grant from the National Geographic Society.

Until this discovery, there were few Roman skeletal remains available for academic study, as Ancient Romans regularly practiced cremation. Excavations in the port area of Herculaneum initially turned up more than 55 skeletons: 30 adult males, 13 adult females and 12 children. The skeletons were found on the seafront, where it is believed they had fled in an attempt to escape the volcanic eruption. This group includes the 'Ring Lady' (image at right, by National Geographic photographer Lou Mazzatenta), named for the rings on her fingers.

Through the chemical analysis of those remains, Dr. Bisel was able to gain greater insight into the health and nutrition of the Herculaneum population. Quantities of lead were found in some of the skeletons, which led to speculation of lead poisoning. The physical examination of the bones yielded additional information. The presence of scarring on the pelvis, for instance, gave some indication of the number of children a woman had borne.

Specific buildings

To expand this section, translate it:Scavi archeologici di Ercolano.

Open excavation

The buildings at the site are grouped in blocks (insulae), defined by the intersection of the east-west (cardi) and north-south (decumani) streets.

Hence we have Insula II - Insula VII running anti-clockwise from Insula II. To the east are two additional blocks: Orientalis I (oI) and Orientalis II (oII). To the south of Orientalis I (oI) lies one additional group of buildings known as the 'Suburban District' (SD).

Individual buildings having their own entrance number. For example, the House of the Deer is labelled (Ins IV, 3).

The House of Aristides (Ins II, 1)

The first building in insula II is the House of Aristides. The entrance opens directly onto the atrium, but the remainder of the house is not particularly well preserved due to damage caused by previous excavations. The lower floor was probably used for storage.

The House of Argus (Ins II, 2)

The second house in insula II got its name from a fresco of Argus and Io which once adorned a reception room off the large peristyle. The fresco is now sadly lost, but its name lives on. This building must have been one of the finer villas in Herculaneum. The discovery of the house in the late 1820s was notable because it was the first time a second floor had been unearthed in such detail. The excavation revealed a second floor balcony overlooking Cardo III. Also wooden shelving and cupboards. Sadly with the passing of time, these elements have now been lost.

The House of the Genius (Ins II, 3)

To the north of the House of Argus lies the House of the Genius. It has only been partially excavated but it appears to have been a spacious building. The house derives its name from the statue of a cupid that formed part of a candlestick. In the centre of the peristyle are the remains of a rectangular basin.

The House of the Alcove (Ins IV)

The house is actually two buildings joined together. As a consequence of this it is a mixture of plain and simple rooms combined with some highly decorated ones.

The atrium is covered, so lacks the usual impluvium. It retains its original flooring of opus tesselatum and opus sectile. Off the atrium is a biclinium richly decorated with frescoes in the fourth style and a large triclinium which originally had a marble floor. A number of other rooms, one of which is the apsed alcove after which the house was named, can be reached via a hall which gets its light from a small courtyard.

College of the Augustales

Fresco from the college, depicting the myth of Hercules.

Temple of the augustales or priests of the imperial cult

Villa of the Papyri

The most famous of the luxurious villas at Herculaneum is the "Villa of the Papyri" now identified as the magnificent seafront retreat for Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, Julius Caesar's father-in-law. It stretches down towards the sea in four terraces. Piso, a literate man who patronized poets and philosophers, built there a fine library, the only one to survive intact from antiquity. Scrolls from the villa are stored at the National Library, Naples. The scrolls are badly carbonized, but a large number have been unrolled, with varying degrees of success. Computer-enhanced multi-spectral imaging, in the infra-red range, helps make the ink legible. There is now a real prospect that it will be possible to read the unopened scrolls using X-rays.[1] The same techniques could be applied to the scrolls waiting to be discovered in the as-yet unexcavated part of the villa, removing the need for potentially damaging the unrolled scrolls.

Issues of conservation

Herculaneum, Ercolano, and Vesuvius

The volcanic water, ash and debris covering Herculaneum, along with the extreme heat, left it in a remarkable state of preservation for over 1600 years. However, once excavations began, exposure to the elements began the slow process of deterioration. This was not helped by the methods of archaeology used earlier in the town's excavation, which generally centered around recovering valuable artifacts rather than ensuring the survival of all artifacts. In the early 1980s and under the direction of Dr. Sara C. Bisel, preservation of the skeletal remains became a high priority. The carbonised remains of organic materials, when exposed to the air, deteriorated over a matter of days, and destroyed many of the remains until a way of preserving them was formed.

Today, tourism and vandalism has damaged many of the areas open to the public, and water damage coming from the modern Ercolano has undermined many of the foundations of the buildings. Reconstruction efforts have often proved counterproductive, however in modern times conservation efforts have been more successful. Today excavations have been temporarily discontinued, in order to direct all funding to help save the city.

A large number of artifacts come from Herculaneum are preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.

Photos

Documentaries

  • A 2009 documentary, Herculaneum, diaries of darkness and light - http://www.onionskin.it/shop
  • A 1987 National Geographic special In the Shadow of Vesuvius explored the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, interviewed archaeologists, and examined the events leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius.
  • An hour-long drama produced for the BBC entitled Pompeii: The Last Day portrays several characters (with historically attested names, but fictional life-stories) living in Pompeii, Herculaneum and around the Bay of Naples, and their last hours, including a fuller and his wife, two gladiators, and Pliny the Elder. It also portrays the facts of the eruption.
  • Pompeii Live, Channel 5, 28 June 2006, 8pm, live archaeological dig at Pompeii and Herculaneum
  • Secrets of the Dead: Herculaneum Uncovered a PBS show covering the archaeological discoveries at Herculaneum.

References

  1. ^ The founding myth asserted that Hercules built Herculaneum at the location where he killed Cacus, a son of Vulcan who had stolen some of Hercules' cattle.
  • National Geographic, Vol 162, No 6. Buried Roman Town Give Up Its Dead, (December, 1982)
  • National Geographic, Vol 165, No 5. The Dead Do Tell Tales, (May, 1984)
  • Discover, magazine, Vol 5, No 10. The Bone Lady (October, 1984)
  • The Mayo Alumnus, Vol 19, No2. An Archaeologist's Preliminary Report: Time Warp at Herculaneum, (April, 1983)
  • Carnegie Mellon Magazine, Vol 4, No 2. Bone Lady Reconstructs People at Herculaneum, Winter, 1985
  • In the Shadow of Vesuvius National Geographic Special, (February 11, 1987)
  • 30 years of National Geographic Special, (January 25, 1995)

External links

Coordinates: 40°48′N 14°21′E / 40.8°N 14.35°E / 40.8; 14.35


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Europe : Italy : Southern Italy : Campania : Herculaneum

Herculaneum is a town close to Naples in Campania, Italy. It is named after the ruined Roman city which forms its main attraction. This is an area of some economic deprivation, so watch your belongings!

Ruins of Herculaneum, the modern town is visible in the background, Vesuvius is in the top right corner
Ruins of Herculaneum, the modern town is visible in the background, Vesuvius is in the top right corner

Get in

By Bus

Frequent buses run to and from Naples.

By Train

The Circumvesuviana trains take 25 minutes to get there from Naples and 40 minutes from Sorrento. To get to the ruins, get off at the Ercolano station, follow the brown signs right and left, then 8 blocks downhill to the big arch where the ticket office & baggage check are (pick up bag 30 minutes before site closing)

Street in Herculaneum
Street in Herculaneum
  • The Ruins of Herculaneum - since Herculaneum was submerged by a boiling mud slide from Vesuvius, which then solidified, the ruins of the houses and streets are in a much better state of preservation than it's neighbour Pompeii, with many of the upper stories still intact. Restoration work is ongoing, and while a lot of the timbers have been replaced, there is still much of the original timberwork present, albeit, badly charred. Urban clearance is taking place in the modern town, which was built above the Roman ruins, in order to expose more of the archaeological remains. There are some surprising finds here such as an intact wooden Roman bed. Since it is less famous than Pompeii, it can also be a more pleasant visit during the tourist season, as you don't have to fight your way past hordes of other tourists in order to get into the buildings. The ruins at Herculaneum are much smaller than those at Pompeii, so it is very possible to walk through the entire excavation and see all the highlights in part of an afternoon. You can get to the ruins by walking down the main street to the very bottom of the hill. Costs €11, or €20 combo ticket with Pompeii, good for three days. Site can be free or 50% off with Campania ArteCard, for more info go to [1] Open daily April to October 8:30-7:30, November to March 8:30-5:00. Ticket office closes 90 minutes before site does, pick up free map at entrance. Audioguides cost €6.50, €10 for two, ID required, turn in 30 minutes before closing. Bathrooms are next to audioguide kiosk. At the ruins, be sure to see:
Street in Herculaneum
Street in Herculaneum
    • House of the Deer
    • Baths
    • House of Neptune & Amphitrite
    • Gymnasium
  • The Vesuvius Natural Reserve Buses leave in the morning from the Circumvesuviana station to the reserve. You can visit the crater in a guided tour.
  • Villa Campolieto A beautiful 18th Century villa overlooking the shore. It is open for visitors on weekends only.

Eat

There are pastry shops on the road from the train station to the site. They aren't the food you're used to in Italy. If you aren't going to tour the poorer parts of Italy they'd probably be neat to check out.

Take your own food to the site, there's only one vending machine, and that's mostly for drinks.

  • hotel Punta Quattro Venti Via Marittima, 59 80059 Ercolano - tel +39 081 777 30 49 [2]
  • Migliodoro Park Hotel Ercolano, Corso Resina 296, Ercolano (NA) Italy, tel +39 081 7399999, [3].
  • Take the Circumvesuviana commuter train to any of the following destinations:
    • The grand city of Naples
    • The nearby fellow destroyed Roman town of Pompeii, from here you can also takes buses up to Mt. Vesuvius
    • The lovely town of Sorrento. From there you can take boats to Capri (also from Naples), and go to the stunning Amalfi Coast
This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HERCULANEUM, an ancient city of Italy, situated about two-thirds of a mile from the Portici station of the railway from Naples to Pompeii. The ruins are less frequently visited than those of Pompeii, not only because they are smaller in extent and of less obvious interest, but also because they are more difficult of access. The history of their discovery and exploration, and the artistic and literary relics which they have yielded, are worthy, however, of particular notice. The small part of the city, which was investigated at the spot called Gli scavi nuovi (the new excavations) was discovered in the 19th century. But the more important works were executed in the 18th century; and of the buildings then explored at a great depth, by means of tunnels, none is visible except the theatre, the orchestra of which lies 85 ft. below the surface.

The brief notices of the classical writers inform us that Herculaneum' was a small city of Campania between Neapolis and Pompeii, that it was situated between two streams at the foot of Vesuvius on a hill overlooking the sea, and that its harbour was at all seasons safe. With regard to its earlier history nothing is known. The account given by Dionysius repeats a tradition which was most natural for a city bearing the name of Hercules. Strabo follows up the topographical data with a few brief historical statements - "OaKot €t ov Kai raur'v Kai 111v e0-js no,u?rniav. .. eITa Tvj gvoi Kai IIEXao-yoi, µeTar avra 2avVirat. But leaving the questions suggested by these names (see Etruria, &c.), 2 as well as those which relate to the origin of Pompeii (q.v.), it is sufficient here to say that the first historical record about Herculaneum has been handed down by Livy (viii. 25), where he relates how the city fell under the power of Rome during the Samnite wars. It remained faithful to Rome for a long time, but it joined the Italian allies in the Social War. Having submitted anew in June of the year 665 (88 B.C.), it appears to have been less severely treated than Pompeii, and to have escaped the imposition of a colony of Sulla's veterans, although Zumpt has suspected the contrary (Comm. epigr. i. 25 9). It afterwards became a municipium, and enjoyed great prosperity towards the close of the republic and in the earlier times of the empire, since many noble families of Rome selected this pleasant spot for the construction of splendid villas, one of which indeed belonged to the imperial house(Seneca, De ira, iii.), and another to the 1 A fragment of L. Sisenna calls it " Oppidum tumulo in excelso loco propter mare, parvis moenibus, inter duas fluvias, infra Vesuvium collocatum " (lib. iv., fragm. 53, Peters). Of one of these rivers this historian again makes mention in the passage where probably he related the capture of Herculaneum by Minatius Magius and T. Didius (Velleius Paterculus ii. 16). Further topographical details are supplied by Strabo, who, after speaking about Naples, continues iX6 P dEvov cpo, pL6v fUTLY 'HpcLKXELOv Ekkel,f1 V9]v Kpav g KaralrvE6 b lEvov Oav j eorWS 15yLElv1% v 7rotEav T? ] v KaTOLKiay. Dionysius of Halicarnassus relates that Heracles, in the place where he stopped with his fleet on the return voyage from Iberia, founded a little city (iroXt X vr i v), to which he gave his own name; and he adds that this city was in his time inhabited by the Romans, and that, situated between Neapolis and Pompeii, it had rravri Katp& /3Ef3aLOvs (i. 44).

2 See also Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome, i. 76, and Mommsen, Die unteritalischen Dialekte (1850), p. 314; for later discussions see Osca Lingua, Pelas'Gians.

family of Calpurnius Piso. By means of the Via Campana it had easy communication north-westward with Neapolis, Puteoli and Capua, and thence by the Via Appia with Rome; and southwards with Pompeii and Nuceria, and thence with Lucania and the Bruttii. In the year A.D. 63 it suffered terribly from the earthquake which, according to Seneca, " Campaniam nunquam securam huius mali, indemnem tamen, et toties defunctam metu magna strage vastavit. Nam et Herculanensis oppidi pars ruit dubieque stant etiam quae relicta sunt " (Nat. quaest. vi. I). Hardly had Herculaneum completed the restoration of some of its principal buildings (cf. Mommsen, I.N. n. 2384; Catalogo del Museo Nazionale di Napoli, n. 1151) when it fell beneath the great eruption of the year 79, described by Pliny the younger vi. 16, 20), in which Pompeii also was destroyed, with other flourishing cities of Campania. According to the commonest account, on the 23rd of August of that year Pliny the elder, who had command of the Roman fleet at Misenum, set out to render assistance to a young lady of noble family named Rectina and others dwelling on that coast, but, as there was no escape by sea, the little harbour having been on a sudden filled up so as to be inaccessible, he was obliged to abandon to their fate those people of Herculaneum who had managed to flee from their houses, overwhelmed in a moment by the material poured forth by Vesuvius. But the text of Pliny the younger, where this account is given, has been subjected to various interpret ations; and from the comparison of other classical testimonies and the study of the excavations it has been concluded that it is impossible to determine the date of the catastrophe, though there are satisfactory arguments to justify the statement that the event took place in the autumn. The opinion that immediately after the first outbreak of Vesuvius a torrent of lava was ejected over Herculaneum was refuted by the scholars of the 18th century, and their refutation is confirmed by Beule (Le Drame du Vesuve, p. 240 seq.). And the last recensions of the passage quoted from Pliny, aided by an inscription, 3 prove that Rectina cannot have been the name of the harbour described by Beule (ib. pp. 122, 247), but the name of a lady who had implored succour, the wife of Caesius Bassus, or rather Tascius (cf. Pliny, ed. Keil, Leipzig, 1870; Aulus Persius, ed. Jahn, Sat. vi.). The shore, moreover, according to the accurate studies of the engineer Michele Ruggiero, director of the excavations, was not altered by the causes adduced by Beule (p. 125), but by a simpler event. " It is certain," he says (Pompei e la regione sotterrata dal Vesuvio l'anno 79, Naples, 1879, p. 21 seq.), " that the districts between the south and west, and those between the south and east, were overwhelmed in two quite different ways. From Torre Annunziata (which is believed to be the site of the ancient Oplontii) to San Giovanni a Teduccio, for a distance of about 9 m., there flowed a muddy eruption which in Herculaneum and the neighbouring places, where it was most abundant, raised the level of the country more than 65 ft. The matter transported consisted of soil of various kinds - sand, ashes, fragments of lava, pozzolana and whitish pumice, enclosing grains of uncalcined lime, similar in every respect to those of Pompeii. In the part of Herculaneum already excavated the corridors in the upper portions of the theatre are compactly filled, up to the head of the arches, with pozzolana and pumice transformed into tufa (which proves that the formation of this stone may take place in a comparatively short time). Tufa is also found in the lowest part of the city towards the sea in front of the few houses that have been discovered; and in the very high banks that surround them, as also in the lowest part of the theatre, there are plainly to be seen earth, sand, ashes, fragments 3 C.I.L. ii. No. 3866. This Spanish inscription refers to a Rectina who died at the age of 18 and was the wife of Voconius Romanus. It is quite possible that she was the Rectina whom Pliny the elder wished to assist during the disaster of Vesuvius, for her husband, Voconius Romanus, was an intimate friend of Pliny the younger. The latter addressed four letters to Voconius (i. 5, ii. I, iii. 13, ix. 28), in another letter commended him to the emperor Trajan (x. 3), and in another (ii. 13) says of him: " Hunc ego cum simul studere, mus arte familiariterque dilexi; ille meus in urbe, ille in secessu contubernalis; cum hoc seria et jocos miscui." of lava and pumice, with little distinction of strata, almost always confused and mingled together, and varying from spot to spot in degree of compactness. It is clear that this immense congeries of earth and stones could not flow in a dry state over those 5 m. of country (in the beginning very steep, and at intervals almost level), where certainly it would have been arrested and all accumulated in a mound; but it must have been borne along by a great quantity of water, the effects of which may be distinctly recognized, not only in the filling and choking up even of the most narrow, intricate and remote parts of the buildings, but also in the formation of the tufa, in which water has so great a share; for it cannot be supposed that enough of it has filtered through so great a depth of earth. The torrent ran in a few hours to the sea, and formed that shallow or lagoon called by Pliny Subitum Vadum, which prevented the ships approaching the shores." Hence it is that, while many made their escape from Pompeii (which was overwhelmed by the fall of the small stones and afterwards by the rain of ashes), comparatively few can have managed to escape from Herculaneum, and these, according to the interpretation given to the inscription preserved in the National Museum (Mommsen, I.N. n. 2455), found shelter in the neighbouring city of Neapolis, where they inhabited a quarter called that of the buried city (Suetonius, Titus, 8; C.I.L. x. No. 1492, in Naples: " Regio primaria splendidissima Herculanensium "). The name of Herculaneum, which for some time remained attached to the site of the disaster, is mentioned in the later itineraries; but in the course of the middle ages all recollection of it perished.

In 1719, while Prince Elbeuf of the house of Lorraine, in command of the armies of Charles VI., was seeking crushed marble to make plaster for his new villa near Portici, he learned from the peasants that there were in the vicinity some pits from which they not only quarried excellent marble, but had extracted many statues in the course of years (see Jorio, Notizia degli scavi d'Ercolano, Naples, 1827). In 1738, while Colonel D. Rocco de Alcubierre was directing the works for the construction of the " Reali Delizie " at Portici, he received orders from Charles IV. (later, Charles III. of Spain) to begin excavations on the spot where it had been reported to the king that the Elbeuf statues had been found. At first it was believed that a temple was being explored, but afterwards the inscriptions proved that the building was a theatre. This discovery excited the greatest commotion among the scholars of all nations; and many of them hastened to Naples to see the marvellous statues of the Balbi and the paintings on the walls. But everything was kept private, as the government wished to reserve to itself the right of illustrating the monuments. First of all Monsignor Bayardi was brought from Rome and commissioned to write about the antiquities which were being collected in the museum at Portici under the care of Camillo Paderni, and when it was recognized that the prelate had not sufficient learning, and by the progress of the excavations other most abundant material was accumulated, about which at once scholars and courtiers were anxious to be informed, Bernardo Tanucci, having become secretary of state in 1755, founded the Accademia Ercolanese, which published the principal works on Herculaneum (Le Pitture ed i bronzi d'Ercolano, 8 vols., 1757, 1792; Dissertationis isagogicae ad Herculanensium voluminum explanationem pars prima, 1797). The criterion which guided the studies of the academicians was far from being worthy of unqualified praise, and consequently their work did not always meet the approval of the best scholars who had the opportunity of seeing the monuments. Among these was Winckelmann, who in his letters gave ample notices of the excavations and the antiquities which he was able to visit on several occasions. Other notices were furnished by Gori, Symbolae litterariae Florentinae (1748, 1751), by Marcello Venuti, Descrizione delle prime scoperte d'Ercolano (Rome, 1748), and Scipione Maffei, Tre lettere intorno alle scoperte d'Ercolano (Verona, 1748). The excavations, which continued for more than forty years (1738-1780), were executed at first under the immediate direction of Alcubierre (1738-1741), and then with the assistance of the engineers Rorro and Bardet (1741-1745), Carl Weber (1750-1764), and Francesco La Vega. After the death of Alcubierre (1780) the last-named was appointed director-in-chief of the excavations; but from that time the investigations at Herculaneum were intermitted, and the researches at Pompeii were vigorously carried on. Resumed in 1827, the excavations at Herculaneum were shortly after suspended, nor were the new attempts made in 1866 with the money bestowed by King Victor Emmanuel attended with success, being impeded by the many dangers arising from the houses built overhead. The meagreness of the results obtained by the occasional works executed in the last century, and the fact that the investigators were unfortunate enough to strike upon places already explored, gave rise to the opinion that the whole area of the city had been crossed by tunnels in the time of Charles III. and in the beginning of the reign of Ferdinand IV. And although it is recognized that the works had not been prosecuted with the caution that they required, yet in view of the serious difficulties that would attend the collection of the little that had been left by the first excavators, every proposal for new investigations has been abandoned. But in a memoir which Professor Barnabei read in the Reale Accademia dei Lincei (Atti della R. Ac. series iii. vol. ii. p. 751) he undertook to prove that the researches made by the government in the 18th century did not cover any great area. The antiquities excavated at Herculaneum in that century (i.e. the 18th) forma collection of the highest scientific and artistic value. They come partly from the buildings of the ancient city (theatre, basilica, houses and forum), and partly from the private villa of a great Roman family (cf. Comparetti and de Petra, La Villa Ercolanese dei Pisani, Turin, 1883). From the city come, among many other marble statues, the two equestrian statues of the Balbi (Museo Borbonico, vol. ii. pl. xxxviii.-xxxix.), and the great imperial and municipal bronze statues. Mural paintings of extraordinary beauty were also discovered here, such as those that represent Theseus after the slaughter of the Minotaur (Helbig, Wandgemalde, Leipzig, 1878, No. 1214), Chiron teaching Achilles the art of playing on the lyre (ibid. No. 1291), and Hercules finding Telephus who is being suckled by the hind (ibid. No. 1143).

Notwithstanding subsequent discoveries of stupendous paintings in the gardens of the Villa Farnesina on the banks of the Tiber, the monochromes of Herculaneum remain among the finest specimens of the exquisite taste and consummate skill displayed by the ancient artists. Among the best preserved is Leto and Niobe, which has been the subject of so many studies and so many publications (ibid. No. 1706). There is also a considerable number of lapidary inscriptions edited in vol. ii. of the epigraphic collection of the Cat. del Mus. Naz. di Napoli. The Villa Suburbana has given us a good number of marble busts, and the so-called statue of Aristides, but above all that splendid collection of bronze statues and busts mostly reproductions of famous Greek works now to be found in the Naples Museum. It is thence that we have obtained the reposing Hermes, the drunken Silenus, the sleeping Faunus, the dancing girls, the bust called Plato's, that believed to be Seneca's, the two quoitthrowers or discoboli, and so many masterpieces more, figured by the academicians in their volume on the bronzes. But a still further discovery made in the Villa Suburbana contributed to magnify the greatness of Herculaneum; within its walls was found the famous library, of which, counting both entire and fragmentary volumes, 1803 papyri are preserved. Among the nations which took the greatest interest in the discovery of the Herculaneum library, the most honourable rank belongs to England, which sent Hayter and other scholars to Naples to solicit the publication of the volumes. Of the 341 papyri which have been unrolled, 195 have been published (Herculanensium voluminum quae supersunt (Naples, 1793-1809); Collectio altera, 1862-1876). They contain works by Epicurus, Demetrius, Polystratus, Colotes, Chrysippus, Carniscus and Philodemus. The names of the authors are in themselves sufficient to show that the library belonged to a person whose principal study was the Epicurean philosophy. But of the great master of this school only a few works have been found. Of his treatise IIepz cpvaews, divided into 37 books, it is known that there were three copies in the library (Coll. alt. vi.). Professor Comparetti, studying the first fasciculus of volume xi. of the same new collection, recognized most important fragments of the Ethics of Epicurus, and these he published in 1879 in Nos. ix. and xi. of the Rivista di filologia e d'istruzione classica (Turin). Even the other authors above mentioned are but poorly represented, with the exception of Philodemus, of whom 26 different treatises have been recognized. But all these philosophic discussions, belonging for the most part to an author less than secondary among the Epicureans, fall short of the high expectations excited by the first discovery of the library. Among the many volumes unrolled only a few are of historical importance - that edited by Biicheler, which treats of the philosophers of the academy (Acad. Phil. index Hercul., Greifswald, 1859), and that edited by Comparetti, which deals with the Stoics ("Papiro ercolanese inedito," in Rivista di fil. e d'ist. class. anno iii. fasc. x.-xii.). To appreciate the value of the volumes unrolled but not yet published (ffor 146 vols. were only copied and not printed) the student must read Comparetti's paper, " Relazione sui papiri ercolanesi." Contributions of some value have been made to the study of Herculaneum fragments by Spengel (" Die hercul. Rollen," in Philologus, 1863, suppl. vol.), and Gomperz (Hercul. Studien, Leipzig, 1865-1866, cf. Zeitschr. f. osterr. Gymn., 1867-1872). There are in the library some volumes written in Latin, which, according to Boot (Notice sur les manuscrits trouves a Herculaneum, Amsterdam, 1845), were found tied up in a bundle apart. Of these we know 18, but they are all so damaged that hardly any of them can be deciphered. One with verses relating to the battle of Actium is believed to belong to a poem of Rabirius. The numerical preponderance of the works of Philodemus led some people to believe that this had been the library of that philosopher. Professor Comparetti has thrown out a conjecture (cf. Comparetti and de Petra, op. cit.) that the library was collected by Lucius Piso Caesoninus (see Regione sotterrata dal Vesuvio, Naples, 1879, p. 159 sq.), but this conjecture has not found many supporters. Professor de Petra (in the same work) has also published the official notices upon the antiquities unearthed in the sumptuous villa, giving the plan executed by Weber and recovered by chance by the director of excavations, Michele Ruggiero. This plan, which is here reproduced from de Petra 1 is the only satisfactory document for the topography of Herculaneum; for the plan of the theatre published in the Bullettino archeologico italiano (Naples, 1861, i. p. 53, tab. iii.) was executed in 1747, when the excavations were not completed. And even for the history of the " finds " made in the Villa Suburbana the necessity for further studies makes itself felt, since there is a lack of agreement between the accounts given by Alcubierre and Weber and those communicated to the Philosophical Transactions (London, vol. x.) by Camillo Paderni, conservator of the Portici Museum.

Among the older works relating to Herculaneum, in addition to those already quoted, may be mentioned de Brosses, Lettre sur l'etat actuel de la y ule souterraine d'Heraclea (Paris, 1750); Seigneux de Correvon, Lettre sur la decouverte de l'ancienne ville d'Herculane (Yverdon, 1770); David, Les Antiquites d'Herculaneum (Paris, 1780); D' Ancora Gaetano, Prospetto storico-fisico degli scavi d'Ercolano e di Pompei (Naples, 1803); Venuti, Prime Scoverte di Ercolano (Rome, 1748); and Romanelli, Viaggio ad Ercolano (Naples, 181 I). A full list will be found in vol. i. of Museo Borbonico (Naples, 1824), pp. I-I 1.

The most important reference work is C. Waldstein and L. Shoobridge, Herculaneum, Past, Present and Future (London, 1908); it contains full references to the history and the explorations, and to the buildings and objects found (with illustrations). Miss E. R. Barker's Buried Herculaneum (1908) is exceedingly useful.

In 1904 Professor Waldstein expounded both in Europe and in America an international scheme for thorough investigation of the site. Negotiations of a highly complex character ensued with the Italian government, which ultimately in 1908 decided that the work should be undertaken by Italian scholars with Italian funds. The work was begun in the autumn of 1908, but financial difficulties with property owners in Resina immediately arose with the result that progress was practically stopped. (F. B.)


<< Herberton

Alexandre Herculano de Carvalho e Araujo >>


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message