Letter from Pliny the Younger
Letter from Pliny the Younger :
[...] A black and terrible cloud, rent by snaking bursts of fire, gaped open in huge flashes of flames; it was like lightning, but far more extensive [...] Soon afterwards, the cloud lowered towards the earth and covered the sea [...]Then my mother began to beg [...] me to try to escape as best I could [...] Ashes were already falling, but not yet thickly. .. When night fell, not one such as when there is no moon or the sky is cloudy, but a night like being in a closed place with the lights out. One could hear the wailing of women, the crying of children, the shouting of men; they called each other, some their parents, others their children, still others their mates, trying to recognize each other by their voices. Some lamented their own fate, others the fate of their loved ones. There were even those who out of their fear of death prayed for death[...] It lightened a little; it seemed to us not daylight but a sign of approaching fire. But the fire stopped some distance away; darkness came on again, again ashes, thick and heavy. We got up repeatedly to shake these off; otherwise we would have been buried and crushed by the weight. [...] At last that fog thinned and dissipated in a kind of smoke or mist; soon there was real daylight; the sun even shone, though wanly, as when there is an eclipse. Our still trembling eyes found everything changed, buried by a deep blanket of ashes as if it had snowed [...]. Fear prevailed, since the earthquake tremors went on, and many, out of their senses, were mocking their own woes and others' by awful predictions. But we, even though we had escaped some perils and expected others, we did not think even of going away until we should have news of my uncle.[...]
House of the Deer
This house is probably the most famous domicile in Herculaneum is known as the 'House of the Deer' after the poignant statue of a deer being savaged by dogs which graces the house's courtyard. The corridors of the house are decorated with beautiful frescoes, thankfully left in place, depicting still life images in vivid, earthy tones.
HERCULANEUM: Just a couple of...
HERCULANEUM: Just a couple of train stops from Pompei, Herculaneum (Ercolano Scavi) was buried by the same eruption that buried Pompei, but in a mudslide rather than by lava and hot ash. This actually preserved items and buildings in the small town better than those of Pompei. Frescos still adorn the walls and ceilings, mosaics still cover the floors and fountains, and wooden lentils and even scraps of rope were preserved. In Pompei, most wall decorations, floor tiling, sculptures and household items have been removed to the National Archeological Museum in Napoli. In Herculaneum, however, much of the preserved items remain in their original locations and context. Additionally, samples of preserved seeds, roots, and plant material were taken from garden areas and ancient gardens have been replanted with the same types of plants that may have been there originally.
The overall effect is a site that is smaller but more well preserved than Pompei. If you have the extra time, and are interested in this sort of thing, Herculaneum is worth the visit.
On the same day I visited Pompeii, I also went to Ercolano. Ercolano (or also called Herculaneum) is quite similar to Pompeii, but not as well known. Herculaneum/Ercolano is located in the city of Napoli and can be reached by train very easily. I don't remember how long it took to get from one site to the other, but I am guessing that it was about an hour. Ercolano was destroyed with the same eruption of the Vesuvius as Pompeii, and was buried under ash deposited by a pyroclastic flow.
In this picture you can see Ercolano, but in the background you can see the city of Naples surrounding this historical site. Please take a look at the rest of my 'off the beaten path' tips to read all about my visit to Ercolano.
The eruption of the Vesuvius
Before I show you some more photos of Ercolano (or Herculaneum), I want to tell you a bit more about the eruption of the Vesuvius. The info is from : http://www2.pompeiisites.org
The eruption of the Vesuvius :
Around 1 o'clock on 24 August in 79 A.D. a roar was heard in the Vesuvian region. From the volcano a cloud of gas and pumice was hurled up into the air at a height of around 15 kms and blackened the sky. A rain of pumice covered Pompei and the whole area to the South-east of Vesuvius until it reached a maximum height of 6 metres! In the hours following around, 1 o'clock at night, a column, 30 kms high began to collapse and a swirl of gas and fine ash, having a temperature of 500° centigrade, began to flow along the south side of the volcano at 70 kms per hour, sweeping away Herculaneum, its inhabitants and whatever obstacle was in its furious way! Take its statues, for example, they were ripped off from their bases, snapped in two and dragged along notable distances. Many Herculanean people ran away. But there were many, who having found refuge in the archlike structures along the beach, were surprised and killed by the burning volcanic cloud! It was an intense heat which immediately arrested their vital organ activities and they all died outright. During the night and at dawn on the 25th of August, earthquakes took place and another five burning clouds were expelled from the volcano, whose products being deposited, buried the city under a blanket 23 metres thick! The particular details of the Eruption of Herculaneum allowed the preservation of wooden and organic materials like foods, furniture, papyri, cloth and skeletons: This renders a visit to the city instructive and fascinating despite the excavated areas being more limited compared to Pompei. Pliny the Younger, as well as collecting news from the area directly affected by the eruption, where his uncle Pliny the Elder died, was also an on-the-spot witness of the eruption. He describes this in two letters he wrote to his friend, Tacitus.
House of Opus Craticium
This is a picture of the house of Opus Craticium. This house is so called from its building style (opus craticum) where rubble walls and lime were supported by timber and covered with plaster. The timbers in this building appear to have been replaced almost entirely but the remains of carbonised roof timbers can be seen in the next building.
not so very serious ;-)
Hahaha, sorry everyone for this photo! It's not a very serious one of Ercolano :-))
Ercolano didn't live up to my expectations I have to admit. I visited Pompeii earlier on in the day, and after hours of walking and feeling tired by now, I arrived in Ercolano. I heard from several friends that they thought Ercolano was more beautiful than Pompeii, so I had very high expectations of it. And.... I was quite disappointed when I got here. I wished that I had stayed longer in Pompeii, because I liked that better... and than all of a sudden, I got giggly and started being creative. Hahaha, and I thought that this statue would look cool with sunglasses on! And I was right! Hahaha, doesn't he look cute now!
A "thermopolium" is a shop which sold hot prepared foods at Herculaneum. The large earthenware vessels, filled with hot water, kept smaller containers of food and drink warm. You can compare thise shops with our "take-out" and "fast-food" places.
For me the most amazing part in Herculaneum was seeing these fresco's. The vibrant colours and thinking of how long ago they were painted on these walls just amazed me.
In this picture you can see a one of the beautiful mosaic floors of the bathhouse. I think it's amazing that you can still see it so clearly after all those years!
A kiss goodbye
I didn't want to leave Pompeii and Ercolano without saying proparly goodbye. Hahaha, and who doesn't want to kiss such a cute looking fellow ;-)
Taking a closer look at one of the fresco's. The colours just amazed me. The walls are so richly decorated with these fresco's, it is hard to believe that they are for real.