Herculaneum (in modern Italian Ercolano) is the ruins of an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in 79 AD, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano, Italy.
Herculaneum was a smaller town with a wealthier population than Pompeii at the time of their destruction. After the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the town of Herculaneum was buried under approximately 20 meters (50-60 feet) of lava, mud and ash. It lay hidden and nearly intact for more than 1600 years until it was accidentally discovered by some workers digging a well in 1709.
From there, the excavation process began but is still incomplete. Today, the Italian towns of Ercolano and Portici lie on the approximate site of Herculaneum, and can be seen in the photos literally on top of the ruins. Funny thing is the modern houses dont look much better.
At around 1pm on August 27, Vesuvius began spewing ash and volcanic stone thousands of meters into the sky. When it reached the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere, the top of the cloud flattened looking like a stone pine tree. The prevailing winds at the time blew toward the southeast, causing the volcanic material to fall primarily on the city of Pompeii. Since Herculaneum lay to the west of Vesuvius, it was only mildly affected by the first phase of the eruption. While roofs in Pompeii collapsed under the weight of falling debris, only a few centimetres of ash fell on Herculaneum, causing little damage but nonetheless prompting many inhabitants to flee.
Because initial excavations revealed only a few skeletons, it was long thought that nearly all of the inhabitants had managed to escape. It wasn’t until 1982, when the excavations reached boat houses on the beach area, that this view changed. In 12 boat houses archaeologists discovered 250 skeletons huddled close together.
During the night, the column of volcanic debris which had risen into the stratosphere began falling back down onto Vesuvius. A pyroclastic flow formed that sent a mixture of 400°C (750°F) gas, ash, and rock racing down at 100 mph (160 km/h) toward Herculaneum. At about 1am it reached the boat houses, where those waiting for rescue were killed instantly by the intense heat. This flow and several more following it slowly filled the city’s buildings from the bottom up, causing them little damage and instantly carbonizing the wood interiors of houses. (info from Wikipedia)
The beach to the bay of Naples before the eruption was where the grass grows. On the left is the 20 meter wall of hot mud and ash that covered the town and moved coast much farther out. On the right the 300 skeletons were found hiding in the boat houses and waiting rescue. Several half built boats and a soldier were found on the beach. The intense heat of the first pyroclastic flow carbonized the surface of organic materials and extracted the water from them.
Roma and Natalia are world travelers, photographers, and an all around fun couple. When they are not travelling far away continents or driving around USA in their trusted Highlander, they can be found in San Francisco, California.