Herculaneum (Modern Ercolano)

Carol C. Mattusch

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online April 2011 | | DOI:
Herculaneum (Modern Ercolano)

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Herculaneum, named after the mythical hero Hercules, was a town of perhaps five thousand inhabitants, alongside of which were vacation homes situated on a promontory that, according to Strabo (Geography 5.4.8), caught the sea-breezes and made Herculaneum a desirable place to live. Today Herculaneum is not nearly as well known as Pompeii and is far less frequently visited, even though Herculaneum was the first Roman site on the Bay of Naples to be officially excavated. The discovery of the theater and the identification of the site sparked a great deal of public interest, and the 18th-century catalogue of finds from all of the sites around the Bay of Naples bore its name, Delle antichità di Ercolano. Buildings of particular interest on the site are the Suburban Baths, recently restored, the House of the Relief of Telephus, House of the Stags, the Samnite House, the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, several shops and tavernae, the College of the Augustales near the northwest corner of the site, and beyond it the Porticus (formerly known as the Basilica and currently under excavation) and the magnificent northeastern palaestra, much of which is still beneath modern Ercolano. Perhaps the most important building that has been found on the site is the huge Villa dei Papiri, which was built to the west of the town proper. A sprawling two- to three-story complex, the villa was situated 36 feet (11 meters) above the ancient coastline. What has so far been mapped, including an enclosed colonnaded garden with a pool 217 feet (66 meters) long, covers about 65,000 square feet (6,000 square meters). From 1750 to 1761, more than 1000 papyrus book rolls and 85 bronze and marble statues and busts were found there. Check the website for its opening times. Today Pompeii is a far more familiar name than Herculaneum, and its name may appear instead of Herculaneum in titles of books, exhibitions, or films that contain material about Herculaneum.

Article.  8089 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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