The Friends of Herculaneum Society was founded in 2004 to raise public awareness about the archaeological site of Herculaneum, near Naples, Italy.
In the autumn of AD 79, Herculaneum, along with the neighbouring towns of Pompeii, Stabiae, Oplontis and others, was destroyed in a cataclysmic eruption of the active volcano on Mt. Vesuvius.
Deserted and forgotten after the eruption, the ancient site was rediscovered in the eighteenth century. In spite of the hazards, it was explored by means of tunnels dug into and through the buildings. Among the many precious finds was one almost beyond belief. In the Villa of the Papyri, some 1800 scrolls were discovered – the only library from the ancient Greco-Roman world to survive into the modern era.
The finds continue. In the late 20th century, archaeologists discovered that the seafront warehouses were filled with the skeletons of people who had hoped to escape the volcanic eruption engulfing their town by setting out to sea.
The pyroclastic rockslides that engulfed the town were sufficiently hot to carbonise organic material and cause the instant death of anyone still in the town at that point.
Though this layer of rock has preserved the remains of Herculaneum very well over the last two millennia, it has also proved very difficult to remove. This makes it a difficult site to excavate and, once excavated, much work needs to be done to safeguard what has been uncovered. Herculaneum is, therefore, is one of the most challenging and exciting prospects for classical archaeology.
This is where the Friends of Herculaneum are playing an important role.
The Society is actively engaged in supporting research and promoting conservation of the site, its built heritage and the objects that are uncovered there.
You can become part of the on-going work of the Society. Join us today and have access to a range of exciting opportunities to find out more about Herculaneum through scholarship, events and expert-led site visits that take you behind the scenes.
There are also opportunities to make a contribution to one of the exciting projects that the Society funds in association with the Herculaneum Superintendency and other partners.
As of 30 April 2015 the Friends of Herculaneum Society, formerly Registered Charity number 1107134, has merged with the incorporated Herculaneum Society (Charity Registration number 1104632; Registered Company number 05153841). The Friends of Herculaneum Society is the name of the body of non-voting members of the Herculaneum Society.