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Rare Ancient Wooden Throne Found in Herculaneum

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Author Topic: Rare Ancient Wooden Throne Found in Herculaneum  (Read 1297 times)
Bianca
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« on: December 04, 2007, 05:17:13 pm »



A piece of a throne found in an ancient Roman settlement near Naples is shown in a photo released December 4, 2007. An ancient Roman wood and ivory throne has been unearthed at a dig in Herculaneum, Italian archaeologists said on Tuesday, hailing it as the most significant piece of wooden furniture ever discovered there. The throne was found during an excavation in the Villa of the Papyri, the private house formerly belonging to Julius Caesar's father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, built on the slope of Mount Vesuvius. REUTERS/Archaeology Superintendent of Pompeii/Handout








                                  Rare ancient wooden throne found in Herculaneum





Tue Dec 4, 2007
 
ROME (Reuters) - An ancient Roman wood and ivory throne has been unearthed at a dig in Herculaneum, Italian archaeologists said on Tuesday, hailing it as the most significant piece of wooden furniture ever discovered there.

The throne was found during an excavation in the Villa of the Papyri, the private house formerly belonging to Julius Caesar's father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, built on the slope of Mount Vesuvius.

The name of the villa derives from the impressive library containing thousands of scrolls of papyrus discovered buried under meters (yards) of volcanic ash after the Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79.

Restoration of the throne is still ongoing with restorers painstakingly trying to piece back together parts of the ceremonial chair.

While other wooden objects have been dug out in nearby Pompeii, experts have never before found such a significant ceremonial piece of furniture. Previously such pieces have only been observed in paintings or made of marble.

"The find of ancient wooden furniture is not an absolute novelty in Herculaneum or Pompeii. Organic materials in fact were preserved in these cities because of the peculiar way in which they were submerged by the Vesuvius volcanic mud," said the head of the dig, Maria Paola Guidobaldi.

"But we have never found furniture of such a significant structure and decoration," Guidobaldi said.

Little is known about how the throne would have been used but the elaborate decorations discovered on the chair celebrate the mysterious cult figure of Attis.

The most precious relief shows Attis, a life-death-rebirth deity, collecting a pine cone next to a sacred pine tree. Other ornaments show leaves and flowers suggesting the theme of the throne is that of spring and fertility.

The cult of Attis is documented to have been strong in Herculaneum the first century AD.

(Reporting by Antonio Denti, writing by Eleanor Biles, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Paul Casciato)


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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2007, 05:41:04 pm »










                                                   H E R C U L A N E U M





For the Italian commune, see Ercolano

Archaeological Areas of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Torre Annunziata*
 
UNESCO World Heritage Site


Herculaneum (in modern Italian Ercolano) is an ancient Roman town, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano. Its ruins can be found at the co-ordinates 40░48′21″N, 14░20′51″E, in the Italian region of Campania.

It is most famous for having been lost, along with Pompeii, in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius beginning on August 24, AD 79, which buried Herculaneum in volcanic mud. Since the discovery of bones in 1981, some 150 skeletons have been found.
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2007, 05:45:26 pm »




Plan Of Ancient Herculaneum
« Last Edit: December 04, 2007, 05:46:35 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2007, 05:49:39 pm »








Ancient tradition connected Herculaneum with the name of the Greek hero Herakles (Hercules in Latin and consequently Roman Mythology), an indication that the city was of Greek origin.

In actuality, it seems that some primitive forefathers of the Samnite tribes of the Italian mainland founded the first civilization on the site of Herculaneum at the end of the 6th century BC.

Soon after, the town came under Greek control and was used as a trading post because of its proximity to the Gulf of Naples. It is the Greeks who named the city Herculaneum.

In the 4th century BC Herculaneum again came under the domination of the Samnites. The city remained under Samnite control until it became a Roman municipium in 89 BC, when, having participated in the Social War ("war of the allies" against Rome), it was defeated by Titus Didius, a legate of Sulla.

After the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, the town of Herculaneum was buried under approximately 20 meters (50-60 feet) of lava, mud and ash.

It lay hidden and nearly intact for more than 1600 years until it was accidentally discovered by some workers digging a well in 1709. From there, the excavation process began but is still incomplete.

Today, the Italian towns of Ercolano and Portici lie on the approximate site of Herculaneum.

Until 1969 the town of Ercolano was called Resina, and it changed its name to Ercolano, the Italian modernization of the ancient name in honour of the old city.

The inhabitants worshiped above all Hercules, who was believed to be the founder of both the town and Mount Vesuvius. Other important deities worshipped include Venus, who was believed to be Hercules' lover, and Apollo.
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2007, 05:50:44 pm »



AREA AFFECTED BY THE 79AD ERUPTION






The catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius occurred on the afternoon of August 24, 79 AD. Because Vesuvius had been dormant for approximately 800 years, it was no longer even recognized as a volcano.

Based on the archaeological excavations on the one hand and two letters of Pliny the Younger to the Roman historian Tacitus on the other hand, the course of the eruption can be reconstructed.

At around 1 PM on August 24, 79 AD, Vesuvius began spewing ash and volcanic stone thousands of meters into the sky. When it reached the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere, the top of the cloud flattened leading Pliny to describe it to Tacitus as a stone pine tree. The prevailing winds at the time blew towards the southeast which caused the volcanic material to fall primarily on the city of Pompeii and the area surrounding it.

Since Herculaneum lay to the west of Vesuvius, it was only mildly affected by the first phase of the eruption. Whereas the roofs in Pompeii collapsed under the weight of the falling debris, only a few centimeters of ash fell on Herculaneum causing little damage. This was, however, enough to cause many of the inhabitants to flee.

It was long thought that nearly all of the inhabitants managed to escape because initial excavations revealed only a few skeletons. It wasn't until 1982 when the excavations reached boat houses on the beach area that this view changed. In 12 boat houses archaeologists discovered 250 skeletons huddled close together.

 
During the night, the column of volcanic debris which had risen into the stratosphere began falling back down
onto Vesuvius.

A pyroclastic flow formed that sent a mixture of 400░C (750░F) gas, ash, and rock racing down toward Herculaneum at 100 mph. At about 1 AM it reached the boat houses where its intense heat killed the
inhabitants within seconds. This flow and several following did little damage to the structures, instead
slowly filling the structures from the bottom up.

The amazingly good state of preservation of the structures and their contents is due to three factors:

By the time the wind changed and ash began to fall on Herculaneum, the structures were already filled up. Thus the roofs did not collapse.

The intense heat of the first pyroclastic flow carbonized the surface of organic materials and extracted the water from them.

The deep (up to 25 meters), dense tuff formed an airtight seal over Herculaneum for 1700 years
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2007, 05:57:37 pm »



BOATHOUSES WHERE THE 250 SKELETONS HUDDLED CLOSE TOGETHER WERE FOUND IN 1982
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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2007, 05:59:21 pm »










Excavation began at modern Ercolano in 1738.

The elaborate publication of Le AntichitÓ di Ercolano ("The Antiquities of Herculaneum") under the patronage of the King of the Two Sicilies had an effect on incipient European Neoclassicism out of all proportion to its limited circulation; in the later 18th century, motifs from Herculaneum began to appear on stylish furnishings from decorative wall-paintings and tripod tables to perfume burners and teacups.

However, excavation ceased once the nearby town of Pompeii was discovered, which was significantly easier to excavate due to the reduced amount of debris covering the site (four meters as opposed to Herculaneum's twenty meters).

In the twentieth century, excavation once again resumed in the town. However, many public and private buildings, including the forum complex, are yet to be excavated.
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2007, 06:00:36 pm »



THE 'RING LADY'








The pyroclastic flow instantly killed all residents who had not escaped before it struck. In contrast to Pompeii, the remains of those killed at Herculaneum were not preserved in plaster casts. Herculaneum was a smaller town with a wealthier population than Pompeii at the time of its destruction.

In 1981, Italian public works employees, under the direction of Dr. Giuseppe Maggi, found bones at the Herculanium site while digging a drainage trench. Italian officials, at Dr. Maggi urging, called in Sara C. Bisel, a physical anthropologist from the United States, to oversee the excavation and study the bones. This research was funded with a grant from the National Geographic Society.

Until this discovery, there were few Roman skeletal remains available for academic study. Excavations in the port area of Herculaneum, which initially turned up more than 55 skeletons: 30 adult males, 13 adult females and 12 children. The skeletons were found on the seafront, where it is believed they had fled in an attempt to escape the volcanic eruption. This group includes the 'Ring Lady' (image above, by National Geographic photographer Lou Mazzatenta), named for the rings on her fingers.

Through the chemical anaylisis of those remains, Dr. Bisel was able to gain greater insight into the health and nutrition of the Herculaneum population. For example, quantities of lead were found in some of the skeletons, which led to speculation of lead poisoning.

The physical examination of the bones yielded additional information. The presence of scarring on the pelvis, for instance, gave some indication of the number of children a woman had borne.
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2007, 06:05:16 pm »



COLLEGE OF THE AUGUSTALES

Fresco from the College, depicting the myth of Hercules.
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2007, 06:13:55 pm »








The volcanic water, ash and debris covering Herculaneum, along with the extreme heat, left it in a remarkable state of preservation for over 1600 years. However, once excavations began, exposure to the elements began the slow process of deterioration.

This was not helped by the methods of archaeology used earlier in the town's excavation, which generally centered around recovering valuable artifacts rather than ensuring the survival of all artifacts.

In the early 1980's and under the direction of Dr. Sara Bisel, preservation of the skeletal remains became a high priority. The carbonised remains of organic materials, when exposed to the air, deteriorated over a matter of days, and destroyed many of the remains until a way of preserving them was formed.

Today, tourism and vandalism have damaged many of the areas open to the public, and water damage coming from the modern Ercolano has undermined many of the foundations of the buildings.

Reconstruction efforts have often proved counterproductive, however in modern times conservation efforts have been more successful. Today excavations have been temporarily discontinued, in order to direct all funding to help save the city.
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2007, 06:15:07 pm »



The house is noted for this outstanding summer
triclinium with a nymphaeum decorated with
coloured mosaics
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2007, 06:17:38 pm »



Herculaneum, Neptune und Amphitrite, Wall Mosaic in House Number 22
« Last Edit: December 04, 2007, 06:18:43 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2007, 06:19:39 pm »



Street Paving Stones in Herculaneum
« Last Edit: December 04, 2007, 06:20:31 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2007, 06:22:06 pm »



Lead water pipe in Herculaneum
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2007, 06:24:02 pm »



Herculaneum
Wall painting in the First Style
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