Herculaneum, an ancient town of Italy, five miles S.E. of Naples, was buried by nn eruption of Vesuvius A.D. 79. The city, said to have been founded by Hercules, was very ancient, and fought at a later period in the Social War against Rome. Later it was a fortified town and a valuable fort.
It is said to have been a second time overwhelmed A.D. 472. The city was much more completely covered than Pompeii, and it was not till 1713 that an important discovery was made of three statues during the digging of a well in the village which had arisen upon the ancient site. This was followed up in 1750 by the discovery of a passage leading to the theatre, but excavation of this has been rendered difficult by the position of the village above. In a square south of the theatre, which seems to date not much farther back than the eruption, is a temple, and there is another on the east connected by a street with porticoes. One of these temples was restored by Vespasian. To the north of the theatre is a basilica 228 feet long by 132 feet wide surrounded by 42 columns. Many paintings were found here. The discoveries at Herculaneum have been of a most interesting description, and throw a great deal of valuable light upon the arts, mode of life, etc., of the period of their entombment. Very many statues have been found, a private villa, and many more houses, and remains of food even had not perished. The scarcity of human remains seems to show that most of the people had time to escape. Among the most precious of the finds are a quantity of papyri, but some of these are useless through the effects of heat and other agencies, though many have been unrolled and the contents published. Unfortunately they are not of first-rate interest, bearing chiefly on the details of the Epicurean philosophy. The Naples Museum is rich in remains of Herculaneum, which city seems to have been better provided with art-treasures than its sister Pompeii.