The Getty Iris: An International Conservation Partnership Is Preserving Herculaneum, Ancient Roman Town Buried by Vesuvius

The Getty Iris: An International Conservation Partnership Is Preserving Herculaneum, Ancient Roman Town Buried by Vesuvius. “Herculaneum began to be formally excavated in 1738, mainly via tunnels in the volcanic tuff (rock made from ash and other debris from an eruption). In the late nineteenth century, open-air excavation began, followed by a more systematic approach from 1927 until 1961 led by archaeologist Amedeo Maiuri. In decades following, the site’s rapid deterioration and lack of resources for its maintenance had many crying in alarm. Historical images taken during Maiuri’s time at the site—compared with later conditions—clearly illustrate the disturbing rate of deterioration and loss.”

Smithsonian Magazine: Buried by the Ash of Vesuvius, These Scrolls Are Being Read for the First Time in Millennia

Smithsonian Magazine: Buried by the Ash of Vesuvius, These Scrolls Are Being Read for the First Time in Millennia. “The scrolls represent the only intact library known from the classical world, an unprecedented cache of ancient knowledge. Most classical texts we know today were copied, and were therefore filtered and distorted, by scribes over centuries, but these works came straight from the hands of the Greek and Roman scholars themselves. Yet the tremendous volcanic heat and gases spewed by Vesuvius carbonized the scrolls, turning them black and hard like lumps of coal. Over the years, various attempts to open some of them created a mess of fragile flakes that yielded only brief snippets of text. Hundreds of the papyri were therefore left unopened, with no realistic prospect that their contents would ever be revealed. And it probably would have remained that way except for an American computer scientist named Brent Seales, director of the Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments at the University of Kentucky.”