Herculaneum: Art of a Buried City

Overview

A sumptuously illustrated survey of the art and architecture of this prosperous Roman town, remarkably preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79

Herculaneum, located on the picturesque Bay of Naples, was buried in the same volcanic eruption as its larger neighbor, Pompeii. But while Pompeii was covered by a relatively shallow layer of loose volcanic ash, Herculaneum was submerged in deep flows of hot volcanic mud, which preserved the...

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Overview

A sumptuously illustrated survey of the art and architecture of this prosperous Roman town, remarkably preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79

Herculaneum, located on the picturesque Bay of Naples, was buried in the same volcanic eruption as its larger neighbor, Pompeii. But while Pompeii was covered by a relatively shallow layer of loose volcanic ash, Herculaneum was submerged in deep flows of hot volcanic mud, which preserved the upper stories of buildings, as well as organic materials like wooden furnishings and foodstuffs.

This oversized volume opens with an account of the city's catastrophic destruction in AD 79, and of the excavations, underway since 1738, that have brought at least a part of its treasures back to light. It then surveys the principal public buildings and private residences that have been uncovered, including the famous Villa of the Papyri, perched to the northwest of the town.

The splendid decoration of these ancient structures—in particular, their wall paintings—is presented as never before, thanks to an extensive photographic campaign carried out especially for this book. With these superb illustrations complementing an authoritative text, Herculaneum is sure to be welcomed by all students and enthusiasts of archaeology.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/25/2013
This massive, generously illustrated coffee-table book documents the stunning remains of Herculaneum, a Roman town buried by the 79 C.E. eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Unlike Pompeii, it was unaffected by the 1980 earthquake in the region, and perhaps, according to the authors, it is more perfectly preserved, with relics including food, wax tablets, and papyri in carbonated form. Beginning with photographic overviews of the city, piles of skeletons, and a pair of delectable gold snake-headed bracelets, archaeologists Guidobaldi and Esposito guide readers through the history, excavation, restoration, and recovered treasures of Herculaneum (now a UNESCO World Heritage site) including such mysterious, charming, and elegant artifacts as a tintinnabulum (a type of bell chandelier) in the form of a gladiator battling his own panther-headed phallus; a circular marble relief of a satyr carrying a plate of fruit and a torch; and a fresco of three Cupids playing hide-and-seek. A must-read for archeology buffs and lovers of ancient Roman culture and art, this book evokes a voluptuous culture distant from our own and yet with images so strangely familiar that it will capture the imagination of any student of humanity. Illus. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
"A must-read for archeology buffs and lovers of ancient Roman culture and art, this book evokes a voluptuous culture distant from our own and yet with images so strangely familiar that it will capture the imagination of any student of humanity."
Publishers Weekly

"A spectacular collaboration among Maria Paola Guidobaldi, director of excavations at Herculaneum, the scholar Domenico Esposito, and the photographer Luciano Pedicini. This large folio volume provides floor plans, detailed descriptions, and evocative illustrations: Pedicini’s careful choice of lighting and viewpoints makes even such well-known objects as the bronze statues from the Villa of the Papyri look startlingly new.
Maria Paola Guidobaldi and Domenico Esposito [employ] meticulous descriptions, finding, remarkably, the right words for every last detail. These accounts make for slow, careful reading, but close description is the only sure way to open our eyes to the full brilliance of such intricate designs, and the two archaeologists’ abilities at putting shapes into words are extraordinary (the book is also exceedingly well translated)."
New York Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789211460
  • Publisher: Abbeville Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/3/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 821,792
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 13.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Maria Paola Guidobaldi, a classical archaeologist, has been director of excavations at Herculaneum since 2000. In this role, she is also joint leader of the Herculaneum Conservation Project, sponsored by the Packard Humanities Institute. Her many other publications include two guides to the excavations at Herculaneum.

Domenico Esposito, also a classical archaeologist, is currently a visiting scholar at the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Berlin. He worked with the Herculaneum Conservation Project from 2004 to 2010.

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