A MOSAIC FROM HERCULANEUM
One more small recollection from Herculaneum. This is a beautiful Roman mosaic depicting Neptune and Amphitrite in the Casa di Nettuno e Anfitrite in Herculaneum. Considering the force with which Vesuvius erupted on August 24th 79 AD and the fact that the town was buried relatively quickly under some 20 meters of ash and lava, the condition of the objects and structures that were painstakingly excavated over the years is simply amazing. In modern times we bury time capsules to give future generations an idea of how we lived. On that one afternoon an entire town and quite a number of its inhabitants became a sealed time capsule, an amazingly preserved museum for their descendants to discover some 1700 years later.
I took this photo in 1996 and a copy of it hangs on the wall in my office in the Archaeological Bureau where I work. The brilliance of its colours and its pristine state of preservation never cease to amaze me. Even after working as an archaeologist for the last 28 years, and having had the privilege to work on mosaics that we have excavated, I can still feel the excitement I felt when I walked into the room in the Casa di Nettuno e Anfitrite and saw this mosaic for the first time. I had seen it before in books, but standing before it was a moment I shan’t soon forget…
Photo taken in Herculaneum, Italy during a visit in 1996. Located in the Casa di Nettuno e Anfitrite, the mosaic is in an excellent state of preservation.
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