About the place you will visit
Lying more than 50 feet below the present-day town of Herculaneum, the ruins reveal the neat urban plan of the city crossed by five cardines and three decumani and divided into insulae (blocks). Unlike Pompeii, it was high-class resort with many patrician residences and few buildings devoted to business activities. About 5,000 people lived there; many of them were fisherman, craftsmen and artists. In 62 A.D. the town was hit by the earthquake which devastated the whole Campania region. It had not yet recovered from that catastrophe when in the year 79 A.D. it was engulfed by a huge river of boiling mud and lava flows. The population tried to attempt an escape towards the sea, but they were forced back to the shore by a violent tidal wave, as witnessed by the 300 human skeletons and remains of boats found along the coast. As the mud dried and solidified, it turned into a kind of compact blanket that acted as an hermetic seal, preserving wood, masonry structures, upper floors of the buildings and even organic food. In 1738 excavations started using the tunnel and shaft system, to be replaced by the open-air method only in 1828.