Like Pompeii, Herculaneum is an ancient Roman city that was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The city stands eight kilometres from Naples, Italy; however, contrarily to Pompeii, Herculaneum was not destroyed by volcanic ash, but rather a day later from pyroclastic flows, which are fast-moving currents of hot gas and volcanic matter. Only a few centimetres of ash fell over Herculaneum, causing little damage. The city, however, endured six pyroclastic flows that solidified the city. This pyroclastic material rapidly buried the city from the bottom up and preserved it in roughly 20 metres of carbonized ash. This natural time capsule preserved wooden and other organic-based objects such as roofs, furniture, doors, cloth and even food –carbonized loaves of bread were found inside some ovens.
For many years it was thought that the inhabitants of the city evacuated before the city was destroyed, but in recent years around 300 skeletons were discovered along the seashore. In 1981, 55 skeletons were discovered in the city, which can now be seen below three different arches as visitors exit the city. These inhabitants were most likely killed by the extremely high temperatures from the pyroclastic flows that reached up to 250°C.
Herculaneum was a wealthier town than Pompeii as it possesses an extensive array of luxurious homes with a more lavish use of coloured marble cladding. The name Herculaneum is connected to the Greek god Hercules, which indicates that the city was originally Greek.
The city was forgotten for over 1,600 years until the digging of a deep well in 1709 revealed some statues. The city continued to be excavated in the 18th century; however, 75 percent of the city remains buried under the Italian towns of Erculano and Portici.
Herculaneum preserves, in great detail, the private life of the ancient Romans and an in-depth explanation of the past. Unfortunately, much like Pompeii, after the city was excavated it was exposed to the elements and the interruption of humans, causing it to deteriorate. The way of nature is absolutely remarkable in its ability to both destroy cities, but yet keep it perfectly preserved for hundreds of years.