"Herculaneum" Top 5 Page for this destination Italy Favorite Tip by iandsmith

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by iandsmith

Favorite thing: In his letter to Tacitus the emotion of the event becomes clear as Pliny the Younger describes it happening;
"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."
Sadly, his uncle, Pliny the Elder, perished in the holocaust.

Fondest memory: Herculaneum (beside and beneath modern Italian Ercolano) was an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in 79 AD in the region of Campania in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius.
Along with Pompeii, Stabiae and Oplontis, it was buried during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and, though Pompeii is the most famous, Herculaneum was more ostentatious. Vesuvius started erupting on August 24, 79 A.D., which buried the town with superheated pyroclastic material that has since solidified into volcanic tuff (or tufa).
It also became famous as the source of the first Roman skeletal and physical remains available for study that were located by science, as the Romans almost universally cremated their dead. Since the discovery of bones in 1981, some 300 skeletons have been found, mostly along the sea shore in boat sheds — the town itself having been effectively evacuated. Herculaneum was a smaller town with a wealthier population than Pompeii at the time of the destruction.

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  • Updated Apr 6, 2012
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