Ch.22: History of Herculaneum



La Direction Générale d' Archéologie de la Région de Campanie, la Ville de Napoli et de Ercolano, avec l' Institut Packard pour les Biens Culturels Italiens, par Décret n ° 484 du 15 décembre 2014, approuvent le Projet finale d' extension du Parc Archéologique de Herculanum dans  la zone Nord-Ouest. L'acquisition de 5 171 m² permettra l'expansion de cette zone, où des fouilles spécifiques seront effectuées pour déterrer des parties encore souterraines; des travaux spécifiques de recherche concerneront l'édifice de la  Basilique Nonienne,  la zone du Forum de la cité romaine, et parts encor incomplètes de la Insula n° 7. L'ancienne ville d'Herculanum sera enrichie d'autres éléments qui la rendront encore plus intéressante et riche. Nous suivrons ces travaux d'excavation et de fouilles, et nous publierons les résultats obtenus des études effectués sur site. 


HERCULANUM was a small town in Campania, located 4 miles east of Naples, along the lower slopes of Vesuvius, which in this place, formed a promontory cutting the coastal line and bordered on either side by the bed cashed two streams of torrential character (Sisenna 4 en 53. tumulo oppidum in loco excelso propter pond moenibus court, inter duos fluvios Vesuvium collocatum infra).  This promontory was crossed, as it still is today, by the great path of coastline, Naples, skirted the gulf to Pompeii through and then connected Oplontis Stabiae and Nuceria, in the provence of Salerno. The great eruption of lava sludge in the year 79 AD, BC and the eruption fire lava in 1631 profoundly changed the face of the place by raising the floor level of more than 20 meters, filling all irregularities field and expanding the edge of the coast.

Over much of the area of the old city, the most populous neighborhoods of the small modern town of Resina are superimposed, while the suburban territory, amid a large number of patrician villas, stand the Both houses of Portici Bourbon and Favorita.  Although Herculaneum was ranked by Cicero (De lege agr., 77, 35, 96) among the most important centers of Campania, it must, like Pompeii, its fame to the circumstances occurred burial and especially to the discovery of many valuable works of art that made him, in the eighteenth century, the richest center of archaeological excavations.
 According to a legend collected by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (I, 35), Herculaneum was founded by Hercules on his return from fabulous trip in Iberia, which, regardless of the myth, amount to make a name and city Greek origin.

In fact, the first mention is made by Theophrastus (314 BC. JC), it is referred to as "Heracleion.
 But the monumental remains discovered so far tell us nothing of the oldest period and only recent excavations have uncovered part of the city walls, the moenia parva cited by Sisenna.  It notes, however, that his map, his consistency and direction of decumanes and megrim, is similar to that of Naples, which suggests that the development of the city had to follow that of large neighboring Greek city.  We can believe in part that relates Strabo (V, 4, 8, p. 246), under which the city would have been under the domination of the first Oscans, then Tyrrhènes and Pelasgians and finally , the Samnites.  No doubt, as in Pompeii, the formation of a small center of indigenous people have preceded the development of the city.

But from the late sixth century BC. J. C, J. C, the new urban area must have fallen under the hegemony of the Greeks of Naples and Cuma who had extended their rule to the entire coast of Campania, from the stronghold of Cuma and the island of Ischia up at the end of the Cape Peninsula Sorrento Capo {Ateneo).  Towards the end of the fifth century BC. J. C, she fell, like Pompeii and all the cities of Campania with the exception of Neapolis, the power of the Samnites.
 It is not clear whether, during the second Samnite war, it suffered the fate of Naples, submitted in 326, or rather that of Nocera and Pompeii (307).  What is certain is that, at the last attempt at insurrection against Italics Rome, Herculaneum, Pompeii and rebellious as Nola, was defeated and subjugated by a lieutenant of Sulla (89 BC.) And from that moment lost all autonomy and turned into a Roman municipality.

It was probably also like Pompeii and Sorrento, a colony of veterans of the army of Sulla.  We possess the period samnite that rare inscriptions in Oscan dialect, while the epigraphic material from the Roman period, discovered from time to time during the excavations, (Corpus iScript. Lat., X, 1401-1477) tells us on the main municipal magistrates and the composition of a College Augustales. It was also found various honorary inscriptions referring to the imperial and patrician character of the city and some inscriptions on public monuments.

The earthquake of the year 62 BC.  JC must have had consequences for Herculaneum equal to those he had to Pompeii or a little less serious only. Public and private buildings had to be heavily damaged and had to require drastic restorations or even complete repairs.  We have explicit evidence in the inscription (CIL, X, 1406) recalling the restoration, executed by order of Vespasian, the Temple of the Mater Deum, following the destruction produced by the catastrophe of the year 62 . But, just as Pompeii, Herculaneum had not had time to repair the damage caused by the disaster, when the eruption of the year 79 AD. JC l'ensevelit entièrement. JC fully buried.