Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sorrento, day 5 - 7000 steps in Herculaneum, part 2

The House of Neptune and Amphitrite has absolutely stunning decorations, as well as a glass paste mosaic with shells and lava foam.

Next was the House of the Beautiful Courtyard – which also had a display of bodies dug out of mud.

Then it was the Lanarius (fabric merchant’s) shop. This contains the only known example of a wooden screw press, which was used to iron clothes.

The House of the Bronze Helm took its name from the portrait of the owner’s home found here.

It’s easy to see where the Trellis House got its name. It was a boarding house, made from opus cracticium (wooden frames filled with crushed rocks, then bound together with lime and mud). Apparently it was an experimental building technique in Herculaneum (it’s not used for supporting walls in Pompeii).

Again, the name of the House of the Wooden Partition speaks for itself.
The partition is a folding gate used for privacy. And it’s amazing that it’s been so well preserved.
There’s another signinum opus floor (see Samnite House above).

The Palestra is absolutely huge, and was built for sporting activities. It’s only partly been uncovered.

There was a fish-breeding pond here, later replaced by another tub with a bronze fountain showing the hydra.

And I was fascinated to see how the columns here were constructed. (Sorry. Another nerdy moment.)

In the House of the Skeleton (named after the skeleton found in the upper floor in 1830 by C. Bonucci), there was an interesting nymphaeum (monument consecrated to nymphs).

Then we explored the original shoreline (the eruption in AD 79 added 400m to the shoreline), which involved coming out of the main complex and going down a tunnel.

We discovered the terrace of M. Nonius Balbus – he was a local senator and restored or built many of the public buildings.

From there, we went to the House of the Relief of Telephus – which may have belonged to M. Nonius Balbus.

And then the House of the Deer, named after the statues found here. Archaeologists found a loaf of bread here with the stamp on it of Celer, a slave freed just before the AD 79 eruption, so can say with certainty who lived here. The mosaic floor here was gorgeous.

We noticed on the way back from the train station that a stage had been built in the middle of the square in St Agnello, so we decided to be nosey in the evening. There was meant to be a concert, but it started to rain heavily, and when the lightning started we decided to go back to the hotel.
Most of the lightning was sheet (and it took me AGES to get a pic of it – not brilliant, but better than not) and we watched it for hour or so; also tried limoncello. (Quite nice but a little sweet for my taste.)


Jan Jones said...

I'm with you, Kate. That photo of the 'cutaway' column is absolutely fascinating!

susanwilson44 said...

Pictures are fab, I never got to visit Herculaneum and am very jealous. The buildings look really well preserved, I think I'll need to make a return journey!

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - I'm still stunned by how advanced the Roman builders were.

Kate Hardy said...

Susan - it's incredibly well-preserved (especially as the site was badly neglected). Definitely worth a return journey!