A prosperous Roman town, Herculaneum was lost in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. Rediscovered in the 18th century, its excavation has been particularly challenging.
An Oscan town, founded around the site of a cult of Hercules, Herculaneum’s greatest prosperity came after it became a Roman municipum. Like Pompeii, it was lost in 79AD before it was rediscovered by treasure hunters in the 18th century. It’s excavation has been particularly challenging as it lies under the modern town that bears it name.
Brief History of Roman Herculaneum
Herculaneum was conquered by Sulla in 89BC. The town became a part of the Roman state, taking on the status of a municipum or provincial town. The conquest led to the most prosperous phase of town’s history. The Romans provided Herculaneum with paved streets, sewers, a theatre and basilica-all the trappings of a Roman town.
With its excellent fishing, noted vineyards and excellent sea views, the town became a tourist hot spot for wealthy Romans looking to escape Rome in the summer months. So important was the town that in 62AD when it sustained damage from an earthquake, its repairs were financed with subsides from the Roman government.
On the 24th August in the year AD79, the Roman city of Pompeii in Italy became the victim to one of the world’s natural disaster. The Volcano Vesuvius erupted, showering ash upon Herculaneum. Pompeii was buried under five feet of ash, and some 20,000 people lost their lives that day. Pompeii would be remembered…
The eruption of Vesuvius commenced on the morning of the 24th August AD79, catching its population utterly unprepared. The tell tale signs were there to warn them; a column of smoke, triggering a response, one of curiosity.
A disaster of epic proportions, the obliteration of lives and property, sending shockwaves across the ancient world. Penned eyewitness reports and poets, lamented the tragedy and its victims. Pliny the Younger’s harrowing account described the eruption, one of confusion and terror.
By midnight on the 24th August, Pompeii was covered in a layer of ash, some five feet in depth. The eruption had sent large amounts of ash into the sky. The region suffered from earthquakes and storms lighting up the sky.
The fallout from the Vesuvius eruption covered an area of some 25 miles. According to the writings of Pliny; as darkness fell upon the land, panic and chaos spread.
Volcanic cloud thinned out, as daylight burst forth, revealing a changed world, one buried in ash.