Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Herculaneum: Not A Good Day At The Beach

Herculaneum, Italy

Instead of the ash that swamped Pompeii, Herculaneum was covered in very hot mud from the explosion of Vesuvius. 

This means that they were preserved in slightly different ways. Some wood could still be seen, in roof beams and stairs. It was replaced by archeologists in part for structural reasons, seen here above the columns, but the original wood was visible in places. 

At the beach, excavators found the skeletons of three hundred residents who had fled there but were overcome. These piles of bones had been moved into alcoves that used to be boat sheds, and greeted us as we entered the site. 

Amazingly, you could still see the well-preserved trees around this impluvium. (Alright, alright, they're a more recent addition.)

After waking into this shop, Yannick paused and said that this was the view that a shop owner would have had thousands of years ago. We sometimes had humbling moments like this.
The pottery in these thermopolia (and there were many of them) were much more intact than in Pompeii. We did wonder how they got those big pots clean after scraping out the food and drink, considering they couldn't be removed from the counters. Such mysteries. 

Herculaneum had more buildings that retained their second floors. Even the roofs were intact on some buildings, unheard of in Pompeii. 

Gates were present here also, blocking us from entering delicate buildings. Behind me you can see those wooden stairs I mentioned earlier. 
One villa had a fully preserved wooden door, hinges included. 

The frescoes in this building were beautifully kept and I was glad this area was roped off so that people couldn't ruin them, intentionally or otherwise. I was astounded by how much graffiti I saw carved into frescoes. Never on ones this immaculate, but it's the principle of it. You shouldn't scratch your name into someone else's art. 
In a room off to the right of this photo, excavators found the remains of a caretaker still in his bed. Bit sad. 

The gods going about their business.

Herculaneum didn't take as long to explore as we expected. We rode back along the ghetto-like Neapolitan track and as we entered the campsite, happened to see that checkout time was 2:00pm. The time was 1:59pm. No joke. We hurriedly checked out and packed up our camp (a record time of thirteen minutes, including bathroom breaks). This allowed us to see the Amalfi coast one day earlier than expected. 

This was the photo we took of it.