Herculaneum

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Herculaneum (in modern Italian Ercolano) was an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows AD 79, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano, in the Italian region of Campania in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius.

It is most famous for having been lost, along with Pompeii, Stabiae and Oplontis, in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius beginning on August 24, AD 79, which buried them in superheated pyroclastic material that has solidified into volcanic tuff. It also became famous as the source of the first Roman skeletal and physical remains available for study that were located by science, for the Romans almost universally burned their dead. Since the discovery of bones in 1981, some 300 skeletons have been found, most along the sea shore — the town itself having been effectively evacuated. Herculaneum was a smaller town with a wealthier population than Pompeii at the time of the destruction.

Contents

History

Ancient tradition connected Herculaneum with the name of the Greek hero Herakles (Hercules in Latin and consequently Roman Mythology),[1] an indication that the city was of Greek origin. In fact, it seems that some forefathers of the Samnite tribes of the Italian mainland founded the first civilization on the site of Herculaneum at the end of the 6th century BC. Soon after, the town came under Greek control and was used as a trading post because of its proximity to the Gulf of Naples. The Greeks named the city Herculaneum. In the 4th century BC, Herculaneum again came under the domination of the Samnites. The city remained under Samnite control until it became a Roman municipium in 89 BC, when, having participated in the Social War ("war of the allies" against Rome), it was defeated by Titus Didius, a legate of Sulla.

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