|The Herculaneum site|
Along with Pompeii, the city of Herculaneum was destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius's eruption in the year 79AD. Herculaneum is smaller than Pompeii, but is much better preserved. One reason for this is that when Vesuvius was spewing ash and other volcanic material, the winds blew it in the direction of Pompeii where it collected on the roofs, collapsed the buildings and basically crushed the town, covering it in ash. It did not have this effect on Herculaneum as only a few centimeters fell causing little damage.
|House of the Beautiful Courtyard|
|House of Relief of Telephus|
The first pyroclastic surge from Vesuvius killed the people of Herculaneum instantly (they found about 300 skeletons at the beach where some had evacuated) and the rest of the surges and lava flows buried the buildings in an airtight seal from the bottom up, preserving almost intact structures and buildings. Also preserved at the site were fabrics, furniture, mosaics, frescoes, and parts of wooden buildings which weren't found at Pompeii. All in all, the pyroclastic rock that covered Herculaneum solidified to an average height of about 52 feet!
|A shop containing ceramics|
Even though only 20% of Herculaneum has been excavated so much has already been found. They were able to identify multi-story villas, the large palestra (gymnasium, sports area), blacksmith shops, ceramics shops, and several thermopolia. Thermopolia were public dining establishments that served hot food and drinks, almost like a fast food restaurant nowadays. Men's and women's baths were discovered, equipped with locker style niches for storing one's clothes and waiting rooms for when the baths were too full. Similar to Pompeii, the technology and scientific/architectural knowledge was impressive for a town over 2000 years old; ridges in the baths' ceilings helped draw the condensation to the sides, the city design was set up for socialization, ease of trade as well as security, and the open-air courtyards allowed the families collect rainwater for drinking, bathing or cooling. Overall, it was quite amazing how advanced the society was.
|Cooking up a specialty at a thermopolia|
|Men's baths - see the ridges?|
|Our Thanksgiving turkey! Courtesy of Jon|