History of Herculaneum[ edit ] Herculaneum plan showing buildings below modern town Ancient tradition connected Herculaneum with the name of the Greek hero Heracles Hercules in Latin and consequently Roman Mythology 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.
It lay 5 miles 8 km southeast of Naplesat the western base of Mount Vesuviusand was destroyed—together with PompeiiTorre Annunziataand Stabiae —by the Vesuvius eruption of ad The town of Ercolano pop. The excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii in the midth century precipitated the modern science of archaeology.
Herculaneum HerculaneumAncient street into Herculaneum, Italy. There is, however, historical evidence that toward the end of the 6th century bc a primitive nucleus of Oscan -speaking inhabitants came under Greek hegemony there and that in the 4th century bc Herculaneum came under the domination of the Samnites.
Herculaneum was severely shaken by an earthquake in ad 62, and the serious damage suffered by its public and private buildings had not yet been repaired when it was buried by the Vesuvius eruption of August 24—25, ad Because few human remains were found during early excavations, it was assumed that, unlike the people of Pompeii, most of the inhabitants succeeded in escaping toward Naples, in the direction opposite to the fall of lapilli and ashes.
In the s, however, excavations at the ancient shoreline of the Bay of Naples an area that is now inland uncovered more than human skeletons, suggesting that numerous additional inhabitants had also perished while attempting to escape.
Although this layer made excavation very difficult, it preserved Herculaneum and prevented tampering and looting. The special conditions of ground humidity made possible the conservation of wooden frameworks of houses, wooden furniture, the hull of a sizable boat, pieces of cloth, and food carbonized loaves of bread left within ovens.
Thus, Herculaneum offers a detailed impression of private life that is only with difficulty achieved in other centres of the ancient world.
Excavation began in the 18th century, when all memory of the existence of Herculaneum had been lost for centuries and the only available reports of it were those that had come down through the authors of antiquity, without any information as to the exact position of the ancient city.
Quite by accident, induring the digging of a well, a wall was discovered that was later found to be a part of the stage of the Herculaneum theatre.
Regular excavations were started in under the patronage of the king of Naplesand from to the military engineer Karl Weber served as director of excavations. Under Weber, diagrams and plans of the ruins were produced, and numerous artifacts were uncovered and documented.
Magnificent paintings and a group of portrait statues were excavated from a building thought to be the ancient basilica of Herculaneum, and a large number of bronze and marble works of art were recovered from a suburban villacalled the Villa of the Papyri because of its having contributed a whole library of ancient papyri in Greek.
These papyri, on philosophical subjects of Epicurean inspiration, are preserved in the National Library of Naples.
Marie-Lan Nguyen The excavations were resumed in with the intention of discontinuing the previous tunneling and instead working from above ground, a method used with success at Pompeii; up to the work proved to be of value, bringing to light the first houses of Herculaneum, among which was the peristyle of the House of Argus.
Abandoned and again resumed inafter the unification of Italythe excavations continued untilwhen, because of the poor results obtained and the presence of the inhabited dwellings of Resina now Ercolanothey were once more abandoned.
The results of this work, interrupted only by World War IImade it possible to have a clear picture of the ancient city. Many of the nobler houses afforded their patrons a view of the bay. Inside the residential quarter, houses of rich republican and patrician construction alternate with houses of the middle class such as the Trellis Housealso finely decorated, or with commercial houses and workshops.
This bath is in a remarkable state of preservation, having remained largely protected against the pyroclastic flows of the eruption. Excavation continues, since the demolition of part of Ercolano, at the forum of the ancient city and at the ancient coastline.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:May 19, · A blog for all those who work on Pompeii and the other archaeological sites of the Bay of Naples. Dec 18, · Pompeii had an active political life. It had a Roman constitution imposed on it after the Social War in 80 B.C. This laid down the political structure.
Only males could vote. The Baths, Paleastra, theatres and amphitheatres were the main public buildings of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
They were places of leisure for men, women, slaves, citizens, ingenui, and libertini, and while the classes were clearly defined in these places, they were also a social event for all to attend. Public Buildings Description Most of the public buildings in Pompeii can be found grouped around the Forum which formed the civic and religious centre of the city.
The biggest difference between Pompeii and Herculaneum is size: the ruins of Pompeii cover about 44 square hectaures, while Herculaneum covers just 4. Pompeii was an important city and trade center, while Herculaneum was a small resort town without the large public buildings (forum, amphitheater, theaters, gym) found in Pompeii.
Political life at Pompeii and Herculaneum was dominated by the patronage of poorer citizens and of particular social and business groups by members of a powerful, wealthy and influential elite. In a way similar to Rome itself, where the great senatorial families had an impressive tradition of office-holding and public service, powerful local Pompeians offered both protection and assistance to individuals.