Herculaneum was located in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and it is thought to have been of Greek origin and named after the Greek hero Hercules. Along with the town of Pompeii, Herculaneum was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Unlike Pompeii, the deep pyroclastic material which covered it preserved wooden and other organic-based objects such as roofs, beds, doors, food and even some 300 skeletons which were discovered in recent years along the seashore. It had been thought until then that the town had been evacuated by the inhabitants. Herculaneum was a wealthier town than Pompeii, possessing an extraordinary density of fine houses with, for example, far more lavish use of coloured marble cladding.
The volcanic water, ash and debris covering Herculaneum, along with the extreme heat, left it in a remarkable state of preservation for over 1600 years. However, once excavations began, exposure to the elements began the slow process of deterioration. Many of the efforts to preserve the remains from the town were unsuccessful but new conservation methods are proving to be more successful. A private-public partnership, the Herculaneum Conservation Project, has taken a lead restoring Herculaneum. In 2012, UNESCO’s director general praised Herculaneum as a model “whose best practices surely can be replicated in other similar vast archaeological areas across the world”
A large number of artifacts from Herculaneum are preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.
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