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By Brian Brennan

Herculaneum, a Roman town on the Bay of Naples, was destroyed in AD79 by the same catastrophic eruption of Vesuvius that buried nearby Pompeii.

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978-0-975696385 [D2]

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 Long lost, this small town was only rediscovered in the early 18th century and initially explored through tunnels burrowed into the rock-hard volcanic sludge that had totally encased it.

Never before had a complete Roman town been found. Fine statues and paintings, dug out of the volcanic tufo,   quickly became celebrated museum exhibits. Visitors came on the Grand Tour and a craze for the ‘Herculaneum style’ swept through Europe. However when Pompeii was found in 1748 and then more easily dug out from under ashes and small stones, its fame quickly came to eclipse that of Herculaneum.

After two centuries of difficult and stop-start archaeological work Herculaneum remains still only partially excavated, and the site faces enormous conservation challenges. Yet it is one of the most evocative of Roman towns. Each year thousands of visitors walk its silent streets and explore the reconstructed houses, shops and public buildings of this open-air museum of Roman life.

This book, fully illustrated in colour, is a comprehensive and up-to-date presentation of the ancient town and its excavation history. Drawing widely upon both recent scholarship and original archival research, it includes chapters on:


    the 19th and 20th century archaeologists who brought Herculaneum to light

    the inscriptions, graffiti and painted notices that give us insights into life in the ancient town

    the Villa of the Papyri and the excavation of parts of it in the 1990s by Antonio De Simone and Fabrizio Ruffo as well as  the study of its scrolls from the 18th century to the new imaging techniques 2016-18.

    the scientific study by LUIGI CAPASSO of the bones of the nearly 300 people found in the 1980s in the boat chambers on the ancient beachfront

    the Herculaneum Conservation Project that is currently saving the long-neglected and badly degraded buildings of Herculaneum.

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