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Excursion in Herculaneum

We offer a professional service to take you on an unforgettable excursion to Herculaneum, giving you the opportunity to discover the hidden secrets of the ancient Roman villas. In fact the ruins of Herculaneum are among the most important in Campania, now under UNESCO protection.

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Herculaneum tourist information

Herculaneum l is an ancient Roman town, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano. Its ruins can be found in the Italian region of Campania.

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. Since the discovery of bones in 1981, some 150 skeletons have been found. Herculaneum was a smaller town with a wealthier population than Pompeii at the time of its destruction.

 

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 leading 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 centimeters 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

Photogallery of Herculaneum