Is Herculaneum better than Pompeii?

The catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD is mostly associated with the nearby town of Pompeii, which was tragically destroyed during the disaster.

However, one town that suffered a similar fate, but has a lot less fame is the nearby town of Herculaneum. Only a short drive from Pompeii, the town is known for being in even better states of preservation, with some of the most significant artefacts and buildings from that time still remaining.

About Herculaneum

The town was named Herculaneum to honour the Greek hero Heracles. It was once a small, but a wealthy coastal town, being one of the fancier spots for Romans to visit for their coastal holidays. Their distant away from Mount Vesuvius and the coastal shore became their saving factor, as when the eruption began, the residents of Herculaneum were spared from the initial toxic gasses and debris. Whilst the nearby town of Pompeii slowly suffocated and was destroyed by falling rocks and buildings, those from Herculaneum were able to evacuate before the final, devastating blast that killed all who were nearby the volcano.

However, sadly, not all residents survived, with 300 skeletons found buried in the site, with historians believing they drowned while trying to cross the town’s river to escape the natural disaster. Herculaneum was rediscovered by accident during the digging of a well in In 1709, with excavations beginning in 1738. Unfortunately, the years in-between the discovery and excavations saw many treasure hunters stealing many of the greater and more expensive pieces from the site.

What is left here

Herculaneum is truly unique in its preservation, with not just buildings, but a range of delicate items, much more than nearby archaeological sites. These particular delectate artefacts include wooden furniture, house frames and boats, which are shockingly well preserved under the thick layer of volcanic rock. Perhaps more startling was the remains of items of fruit, bread, clothing and paper. Which revealed a huge amount of information on Roman’s daily lives than ever before. The paper scrolls, in particular, have provided historians with the town’s structure, beliefs, rules and legal matters, and much more!

However, by far one of the most exciting artefacts which visitors can view when visiting is the remaining frescoes found on the crumbling walls. Brilliantly coloured frescos are found on the shop buildings and public fountains, showcasing certain gods or goddesses. Truly an unforgettable site to see!

Related article: Places to visit near Pompeii