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Herculaneum from the ad 79 eruption to the medieval period: analysis of the documentary, iconographic and archaeological sources, with new data on the beginning of exploration at the ancient town1

Abstract

This article, divided into two main parts, first analyses the archaeological data for a return to the site of Herculaneum after its destruction in the ad 79 eruption. The evidence includes a necropolis above the Roman town, along with burials and other finds in the Herculaneum area up to the late antique period. The second part looks at how the medieval settlement of Resina grew up over ancient Herculaneum and how new archaeological research has demonstrated that tunnelling was already being carried out to retrieve marble and building materials from the Roman town in the fourteenth century. This occurred sporadically, but it seems to have continued, without being continuous, through the subsequent centuries and pre-dates by several centuries the so-called ‘re-discovery’ of Herculaneum in 1710, which took place over twenty years before the beginning of systematic excavations in 1738.

L'articolo, diviso in due capitoli, analizza nella prima parte le tracce archeologiche di un ritorno nel sito di Ercolano dopo la distruzione dell'eruzione del 79 d.C. attraverso la presenza di una necropoli sul sito dell'antica città e di tombe e rinvenimenti nel territorio di Herculaneum fino al tardo antico. Nella seconda parte si ricostruisce lo strutturarsi in epoca medievale dell'abitato di Resina sul sito dell'antica Ercolano e di come i dati archeologici dimostrino un'azione di scavo di pozzi e cunicoli per il recupero di marmi e materiali edilizi dell'antica città già nel XIV secolo, con un'attività sporadica e non organizzata, ma che sembra continuare senza soluzione di continuità nei secoli successivi, fino alla cosiddetta ‘riscoperta’ del 1710 che ha preceduto di un ventennio l'inizio degli scavi sistematici del 1738.

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Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Domenico Camardo, Herculaneum Conservation Project, Scavi di Ercolano, via Mare 44, 80056 Ercolano (NA), Italy. d.camardo@herculaneum.org
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The research behind this article was carried out in the context of the Herculaneum Conservation Project, which has been active at the site for more than ten years thanks to the generous support of David and Pam Packard. The Herculaneum Conservation Project is a Packard Humanities Institute initiative in collaboration with the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei and the British School at Rome: for more information, see www.herculaneum.org. I would like to thank the project director, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, for his support, and the site director, Maria Paola Guidobaldi, for her invaluable advice. In addition, thanks are due to colleagues Mario Notomista, who helped prepare the illustrations, and Sarah Court, who translated the article into English and suggested improvements to the text.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

C. Principe , J.C. Tanguy , S. Arrighi , A. Palotti , M. Le Goff and U. Zoppi (2004) Chronology of Vesuvius activity from A.D. 79 to 1631 based on archeomagnetism of lavas and historical sources. Bulletin of Volcanology 66 (8): 2533.

M. Rosi and R. Santacroce (1983) The A.D. 472 ‘Pollena’ eruption: volcanological and petrological data for this poorly known Plinian-type event at Vesuvius. Journal of Volcanological Research 17: 249–71.

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Papers of the British School at Rome
  • ISSN: 0068-2462
  • EISSN: 2045-239X
  • URL: /core/journals/papers-of-the-british-school-at-rome
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