November 5, 2019
We docked at Naples on Tuesday. Since they had been to Pompeii, Christopher suggested several other possibilities for things for us to do around Naples. I mainly wanted a pizza, but that never happened. Their style has thicker crust than the Roman style we had been eating. Maybe the good pizzas we had in Assisi had been more that style. Anyhow, I suggested that we sign up for the tour of Herculaneum. I was glad to get to either Pompeii or Herculaneum. They were destroyed by the same Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD, but the sites are somewhat different. The initial eruption sent only a small amount of ash to Herculaneum, even though it is closer to the mountain than is Pompeii, because of the wind direction. It was enough to make most residents flee the area. About twelve hours later, ash and hot gasses flowed down the mountain and buried Herculaneum. The heat over 400° killed victims instantly. In many parts of town, buildings survived intact, and the 50-foot-deep ash covering preserved even wood. The town was discovered in the early eighteenth century, and excavations continued over the next couple hundred years. The statues are mostly copies, with the originals in museums. The folks in Herculaneum were richer than the general run of people in Pompeii, so the latter gives more clue to more typical lives, and Herculaneum shows us more about the lives of wealthier people.
Our guide was an expert in archaeology. He has appeared on CBS programs, including I think "Sunday Morning," talking about his areas of interest. His English was excellent, but accented enough to present a challenge for Torrey sometimes. I had the additional problem that my radio listening device went out near the end of the tour, so I stayed near the guide after that.
You can see the modern town on the level above. Maybe 10% of Herculaneum has been excavated, and there are not funds enough to buy the modern structures to dig under them. Priority now is to preserve what has been uncovered so far.
The water used to come up to this level, and these openings housed boats. You can see skeletons of people who were in this area, presumably trying to flee. I chose not to photograph them. Rich people left slaves behind to protect their property, we think.
We were able to don shoe coverings and enter a structure where work is going on. It was newly opened to the public.
When we got back to the port, we had time to do a bit of exploring in Naples, but I had seen the main close-by things like the castle from the bus on our way by, and some of the features of the town were pointed out along the way. So I didn't even venture out to try to find a good pizza place. I settled for the "free" lunch on the ship.