t2.bmp (300054 bytes)  Herculaneum

 

May 15, 2010

Mount Vesuvius looms over everything like a dark, gloomy guardian. It must be funny to live next to an active volcano that brings tourists and money to town but could rain destruction down on you at any time...

Here we are at Herculaneum, looking down into the ruins, which are situated in the middle of a modern neighborhood and set apart by walls.

Briefly, Karen feared that we would just be standing up here, looking down at the ruins.  That wouldn't be any fun. But then we saw some people in the ruins and knew we would be going down.

See the grassy area to the left?  That was the beach! Herculaneum was a beach resort town.

In this picture, you can see the ruins at the lower level, surrounded by the normal modern neighborhood above.

The guide said that the reason more of Herculaneum is not excavated is that it is underneath where people currently live.

Plus, there is the dilemma that, whatever you uncover is inevitably harmed by that exposure.

Those white bed sheets drying on the balcony caught our eye.

The public bathhouse currently has glass skylights covering the openings in the roof. The holes are original but the glass is not.

Here are the remains of a boat that was found capsized on the beach once excavation started.

The torrent of mud that covered Herculaneum washed down over the city and into the sea, and capsized this boat and killed everyone in it.

The boat contained human remains, but they are not here in this little museum.

Here we are again, looking down into the ruins, itching to get down there.

Again, this is where the beach used to be.

This is the part of town that faced the beach.

Finally we are here! We are on an actual ancient road.

Looking into the yard of one of the houses.

Our guide talked about how Herculaneum was originally a resort town where the rich had huge houses, but that later on the rich left and sold the large houses to people who rented out rooms to poorer people.

Mosaics on the floor

It was so charming to look down alley ways and see multiple archways and doorways.

Our guide gave us a lot of details about how the paint was applied to the plaster when it was still wet, so that the paint became part of the wall itself, which is why so much has survived.

In this house, there is a black wooden screen structure in front of the large doorway (behind all the people). This was an unusual feature, seen only in this house.

Some of these pools wee prettier than others.

The typical house has a big central room, with a hole in the ceiling/roof under which was this pool-like structure. Smaller rooms were built into the walls of this larger room.

We missed the guide explaining why you would want a pool of potentially murky rainwater in your living room.

This is a reconstructed roof; those timbers are clearly not original ;^)

Here is a particularly pretty pool under the hole in the roof

You can just barely make out the black wooden screen structure in this photo (behind all the people).

The fashion was to paint architectural details onto the plastered walls. You can see here that it looks like a series of closed windows or doorways depicted here.

Lou took a lot of great pictures on this trip!  He was using his brand new Nikon CoolPix P-100. We spent a few hours pouring over the user manual, learning about all the amazing modes and features. Nothing like sitting on the balcony, listening to the sea, and reading about how to take panoramic photos... or how to get the camera to find and focus on a smiling face.

Near the beginning of the tour, we often seemed almost alone in the ruins.  Later on, the streets became more crowded.

In some places, the curbs along the edge of the road were very high, too high to easily step up. But not here.

When I think back to how hard it was to walk in Pompeii or Ephesus, this place was a breeze.

This was a particularly pretty wall, with the mix of black stones.

In the lower right corner of this photo, you can see Kathy in her black and white striped dress.

Here is a pretty pool, with a nice lip around the perimeter.

I think it might have been scary to look into the water and see these creepy crawlies. You don't see this kind of tile work at the YMCA pool, do you?

We are in the bathhouse, and this is the mosaic on the floor which we assume would be under water. There were chairs up high built into the wall above this floor.

This is another room in the bathhouse.

We took this opportunity to sit down and rest on the benches built into the walls of this courtyard.

The window above the doorway is very cute.

This was a shop, and those contains held either wine or olive oil.

The guide said that the wooden upper story here is ORIGINAL and ANCIENT!

Now you can see where the curb is getting a little too steep.

See the stumps of red brick columns along the left side of the street? Those are the remains of columns that supported a portico for shade.

Here is a close-up of one of those column stumps. The red brick was hidden by an outer coating.

Nice lawn!

Inside one of the shops, the archeologists have stacked scraps of marble facades neatly.

Some of the wall paintings were just amazing to behold! This group of three figures shows some goddesses welcoming Hercules into the city... maybe! Neither one of us can remember what the guide told us. But the city was named for Hercules so I am pretty sure he is the guy pictured here.

Oooh, here you can see more clearly the columns that held up the portico, as well as some of the covering that hid the red bricks.

Something else you can see here embedded in the sidewalk on the left:  PIPES! They had a complex plumbing system.

Here we are in the back corner. It is really clear here how the modern world butts up against the ancient world.

It started to rain on us! We put away the camera for awhile and tried to stay dry.

We think that we were down in the ruins for about 2 and a half hours. We really had a thorough and wonderful tour!

We passed people who were there on their own, using the handheld audio tour machines.

This marble stairway was just too pretty.

 

Excursion :

The Ruins of Herculaneum

The Ruins Of Herculaneum - NP06

 

Unlike the commercial city of Pompeii, Herculaneum was a seaside resort. Dating back to the 4th century BC, the city was thought to have been founded by the legendary Hercules. This elite Roman resort was devastated by the same volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii in 79 AD. Unlike the ash and lava that devastated Pompeii, Herculaneum was covered by a torrent of mud, which protected the ruins from atmospheric agents and illegal excavators. The site was discovered by accident in the early 1700's when a well was being dug and workmen struck a stone pavement, the stage of the city's theater. Serious excavations began under Mussolini but only about eight blocks have been excavated. The rest is covered not only by rock but also by a dense modern neighborhood. Bringing more of Herculaneum to light is a slow operation, with new digs continuing. Time permitting; you'll stop at a cameo factory (either before or after your visit to Herculaneum), where you will have the opportunity to observe local artisans at work in their centuries-old shell-carving tradition.

Note: This tour involves extensive walking (1.5 miles) over cobblestones and uneven ground with steep inclines and approximately 10 to 15 steps. Comfortable walking shoes, hat and sunscreen are recommended. Herculaneum is not wheelchair

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