Herculaneum – The coastal city buried by Vesuvius.

Herculaneum was the seaside resort that the wealthy families retired to in the hot Italian summers.

In 79 AD. the pyroclastic cloud from the eruption of Vesuvius engulfed the city. Everything was frozen in time. Digging it out of the solidified ashes reveals a Roman city in all its glory.

As the eruption took place people sheltered in the arched warehouses on the shore. Unfortunately it did not save them from the superheated cloud of ash.

Those arches were on the seashore.

 

You can see the depth of the ash that they have dug out

Houses and mosaics.

Shops with counters and pot containers for hot foods – the Roman equivalent of McDonalds.

26 thoughts on “Herculaneum – The coastal city buried by Vesuvius.

  1. I think they rediscovered it in the 18th century and there were some early efforts in the 19th to dig out bits but it wasn’t until the 20th century that they dug it out.

  2. Wonderful photos. They did bring an interesting collection of Pompeiian artifacts to LA art museum about 10 years ago, and I think the collection still travels about. photos

  3. That McDonalds comment wasn’t accurate. The pot containers are actually for baking unleavened bread as they had charcoal underneath them and could be cooked off fresh ‘while you wait’ in a few minutes. The rounded top lip acts as a holder to stop the bread falling in. More like Fortnum & Mason or the deli at Harrods, I think.

      1. The dolia are fixed and cannot be removed for cleaning. These as shown in the photo were for the baking of unleavened bread or storage of dried food.
        Bread would have been a far more regular purchase than dried food stuffs.
        You’d need to find a photo of a counter top without these pots and just empty holes for the hot food for sale stuff. Because they practised food hygiene conscious and washed the pots!

  4. You don’t have to be an expert, it’s common sense. But it might help if you can recognise what they use to bake unleavened bread. Anyway, think about it, how are they going to properly wash pots that are fixed into the table top? It’s not custom and practice to wash bread ovens or grain storage receptacles, is it?

    1. Well Roger – here is an extract from an academic paper written about the taberna in Pompeii and Herculaneum. It focusses on the decoration and use of the marble counters with their dolia:
      Dolia
      were very versatile containers and were used to contain and store a great diversity of
      foodstuffs such as grain (Cato De Re Rustica, 11) and pickled vegetables (Columella 12.56.3).
      It is frequently stated that the dolia in taberna counters were used to hold wine that was served to customers (e.g. Boissier 1905, 423). In addition, Tanzer mentions that they not only held wine, but also hot stews (1939, 42). The assumption that dolia found in taberna
      counters contained any form of liquid would seem problematic. The rationale behind such doubts is the porous nature of the dolium fabric and the fact that dolia would have required some form of treatment if they were to contain liquids of any sort (Packer 1978, 47). If wine, or any other non-viscous fluid, were to be carried it was essential to seal the porous earthenware container with an impermeable membrane of some form. The normal method used to waterproof unglazed porous earthenware containers in antiquity was to coat the inside, and sometimes the outside of the vessel in resin, or its prepared version pitch (Callender 1965, 45; White 1975, 145; Koehler 1986, 50; Formenti & Duthel 1996, 84). Pitch played an important part in the production and distribution of wine. It was almost taken for granted that any container in which wine was stored, particularly if it was to travel, must be thoroughly coated with pitch to make it watertight

      It seems to suggest that your views are wrong.

      1. Are completLy dolly-dimple or something?
        You just SHOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT, DIDN’T YOU! LOL.
        And you didn’t even bother to read your extract because it discusses the problems with porous dolia and the fact that they would have needed some form of treatment to hold liquids, either hot or cold.
        You got the wrong dolia! You need the ones that they REMOVE from the table holes for CLEANSING purposes! What part of that bit can’t you understand?
        Man, are you slow on the uptake of the most basic of information! LMAO.

        You really are a classic case of feet first, think later. Bloody wonderful reading.

  5. Opher, seriously, take my advise. Never engage in discussion of any topic that you do not have any half decent knowledge of. Food and it’s service receptacles whether ancient or modern being one of them. Stick to what you know best. Biology.
    You have to remember or succinctly have forgotten that you haven’t got any idea whatsoever of what other people may do or have done for a living. Never forget that.
    Tread far more carefully otherwise you will slide on your arse.

    1. Roger/Andrew – I’ll listen to the experts thanks. They seem to know what they’re talking about. It seems they don’t agree with you. I wonder who’s sliding on their arse?

      1. Loofer, Read the flipping text of your own extract! Read it again if not fully understood first time around. FFS!

      2. Andrew I’ve read lots of stuff about it – including the experts at the site. When will you ever accept that you are caught out once again?
        Your knowledge of present day hotel catering does not apply to Roman times.

      3. You are strange. Read the posts.
        You have the wrong info.
        Please read the text that you included and you see for yourself the explanation regards what is used for what.
        The text is thus:
        It is frequently stated that the dolia in taberna counters were used to hold wine that was served to customers (e.g. Boissier 1905, 423). In addition, Tanzer mentions that they not only held wine, but also hot stews (1939, 42). The assumption that dolia found in taberna counters contained any form of liquid would seem problematic. The rationale behind such doubts is the porous nature of the dolium fabric and the fact that dolia would have required some form of treatment if they were to contain liquids of any sort (Packer 1978, 47). If wine, or any other non-viscous fluid, were to be carried it was essential to seal the porous earthenware container with an impermeable membrane of some form. The normal method used to waterproof unglazed porous earthenware containers in antiquity was to coat the inside, and sometimes the outside of the vessel in resin, or its prepared version pitch (Callender 1965, 45; White 1975, 145; Koehler 1986, 50; Formenti & Duthel 1996, 84). Pitch played an important part in the production and distribution of wine. It was almost taken for granted that any container in which wine was stored, particularly if it was to travel, must be thoroughly coated with pitch to make it watertight.

        OK Opher,
        Question 1: How did they wash these pots if these pots were fixed to the tabletops?

        Question 2: What was the reaction of this coating of resin were these pots to be heated to serve hot food?

        I’m afraid if you were to read your extraction piece more concisely, you will note that it does in fact not discuss the methods of protecting the pots with a resinous substance for use with hot foods, not does it explain how they could be properly cleaned with removal to an ample water source for washing.

        You really are a special case.
        Remember, you’re the guy that went to that old writers house, Beatrix Potter, and still walked out the door with the wrong story and I had to correct you about that, too.
        Give us all a break Opher and wind your neck in, matey

      4. Opher, OK, since you persist in using my name in vain, in your pathetic attempts to undermine other people who provide you with informed and accurate information, I have the following to add.

        As you know I was actively engaged in the upper echelons of the 5-star Hotel industry for some 30 years and worked in over a dozen countries all over the world. I worked for three of the top operating companies as well as a few very expensive, private operations.
        Let me tell you this.
        Within these huge hotels, you will find a number of food and beverage outlets offering a wide range of choices of all sorts of food styles from a variety of countries.
        On top of that every day availability are special promotions featuring what are termed as “Theme Nights”. These are special one-off productions where tickets are sold in advance and it’s like a special private banquet. What the special event (a dedicated team) hotel people do is plan well ahead and secure all the necessary equipment, in some cases arrange for things to be made etc., and over time the volume of equipment gathered and collected results in the ability to produce a variety of these themed nights. Namely, “Arabian Nights”, “African Safari”, “Caribbean Sunset” etc., which can all be designed into a special marketing brochure which can be offered to companies or individuals looking to secure something different for a banquet engagement for their company or private party. It goes without saying that this sort of event does not come cheap and the average person will never have seen the likes of this. These events are fantastic with incredible detail and always work best when conducted al fresco. The staff wear specially designed clothing matching the theme, the lighting is contemporary to the time, as is the entire decoration of the the area. Entire walls are covered with artistic creations, usually huge rolls of painted canvas of vistas to give the impression of space and work extremely well and very realistic. The music has been researched as our people know what instruments etc were used, so for “Roman Nights”, there would be loads of trumpets announcing the fanfare entrance as everyone arrives for pre-dinner cocktails served obviously in specially reproduced Romanesque receptacles by staff in their Togas, leather strapped footwear and Laurel hair designs. It costs thousands to set up and produce but the objective is to sell it over and over, therefore, a highly profitable enterprise. Needless to say these hotels have the storage facilities for all this stuff
        This is what makes these hotels spectacular and special and give people fantastic entertainment and most memorable evenings.

        This Roger guy was in fact bang on the button with that information Opher. You’ll just have to accept that. The fact is you’re really not qualified to be telling people how all that stuff worked. Five minutes in an area and taking a few snaps really doesn’t cut it.
        You’re making a mockery of people who do in fact provide you with solid information.
        Personally, I really can’t make out what the hell is wrong with you at times.
        I know I’ve taken the complete piss out of you in the past and you know what, I don’t actually have any regrets for that because such as circumstances as this, you did in fact deserve it.
        You need to start “listening” to other people and you might learn something. You need to realise that there are a lot of people out there who have had one hell of a lot more interesting life than you ever had and know about all sorts of interesting things. People are not one-dimensional and haven’t all been sitting about doing exactly the same thing in the same town for 35 years for the best part of their life.
        You really need to wake up to that fact.

      5. Andrew – why do you persist in this schizoid silliness?
        Now seeming as you stop at nothing to create trouble here is the bits of wiki. They are not as informative as the expert info around Herculaneum.
        The Dolia were not used for making bread with charcoal as claimed. They had a variety of uses – the fixed ones were probably a variety of dried foods as they needed cleaning. The mobile ones were used for hot food and beverages and were lined with resin or pitch.

        a thermopolium (plural thermopolia), from Greek θερμοπώλιον (thermopōlion), i.e. cook-shop,[1] literally “a place where (something) hot is sold”, was a commercial establishment where it was possible to purchase ready-to-eat food. The forerunner of today’s restaurant, the items served at the thermopolia are sometimes compared to modern fast food.
        A typical thermopolium would consist of a small room with a distinctive masonry counter in the front. Embedded in this counter were earthenware jars (called dolia) used to store dried food like nuts (hot food would have required the dolia to be cleaned out after use, and because they are embedded in the counter, it is believed that they were not used to store hot food, but rather dried food where cleaning wouldn’t be necessary). Fancier thermopolia would also be decorated with frescoes.

        As I said – the Roman equivalent of McDonalds.

        Not perhaps you can stop being rude, pedantic and rather silly. Oh – and stop pretending. It’s all too transparent.

      6. Opher, Schizoid? you’ve just simply repeated back what you have been informed about before within several informative posts. You went to wikipedia and rounded up what’s already been told to you, by me and the other guy, Roger.
        What does it take to tell you anything?

        We know that the pots that were fixed were not used for hot food, I’ve been trying to tell you that.
        Did you bother to actually read your wikipedia extract?
        Why don’t you refresh your memory and read back post by post in an orderly manner every word of what has been conveyed to you. All will be revealed.

        Now, let me tell you this for nothing no charge. Unleavened bread can very easily be cooked on these fixed pots heated with charcoal. All they need is to reach the correct temperature after smeared down with some oil, so as the breads don’t stick to the sides. In fact it’s not even a particularly Roman cooking style as it’s a form of cooking dating back thousands of years in many cultures all over the world.
        We didn’t have specialised bread ovens and cooked bread in pots over the fire.
        This is how they bake nan breads and chipati in India, Pakistan and Bangla-Desh.
        They can’t afford properly built oven structures and this method is also used by the tribes people who live in deserts.
        Because you have absolutely no knowledge of world cuisine cooking methods and styles of presentation, what chance has the likes of you compared to me got with trying to tell me how food was prepared? Are you nuts? That’s like me trying to tell you that I was a far better Biology teacher than you. Well I absolutely was not and neither would I dream of even having the bloody cheek to do so. So why the hell, therefore, do you have the temerity to question me what I know and studied for some thirty years and attempt to infer that I don’t know what I’m talking about? You are so damned impertinent aren’t you? How dare you! You’ve been told what’s what, what served what, why certain things couldn’t serve stuff and the exact reasons why given.
        That’s all you need to know short of shoving you into the bloody pot to see for yourself with your myopic one eye.

        I worked at the crown pinnacle of my industry and that required an expertise level unbeknownst to you.
        Please shut up.

  6. And after you’ve read it all and actually learned something, don’t forget to wash the pots. That’s about your level on this subject – the pot washer. You were one once, weren’t you? Opher, the pot-washer, who knows everything about everything. OK. Got it. Sorted. What a talented guy.
    Pot washer attempts to tell Executive Director about food production!
    You silly little man!

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