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Unit 04 Pompeii/Vesuvius

Pliny, the Younger, described the cloud rising from Vesuvius that day in 79 AD as looking like a pine tree.  Although he didn't state the species name the description is clearly of the pine type in the picture which is known as pinus maritimus or pinus pinea and commonly called in English the "Umbrella Pine". 
This one is in modern Ercolano (Herculaneum) at the foot of Vesuvius.  Pliny's description of the eruptive cloud:  "...its general appearance can best be expressed as being like a pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches, I imagine because it was thrust upwards by the first blast and then left unsupported as the pressure subsided, or else it was borne down by its own weight so that it spread out and gradually dispersed...."
The picture shows modern Ercolano on the slope of Vesuvius.  The excavations are circled.  At the time of the 79 AD eruption the shore side of the excavations was the beach.  After the eruption the accumulation of debris and volcanic fallout move the shoreline half a kilometer into the sea.  The two darker areas (where there is little building) are lava flows from the 1760-61 effusive-explosive eruptions.  Clearly, the one to the left cut the main road.  Volcanologists today worry that this same road is still the main evacuation route for persons in the "red zone", which they believe will be hit by either effusive or pyroclastic flows in any future eruption.  Remember,  the top of the magma chamber is now thought to be 1.5 kilometers below the surface,  and it is thought to contain over 300 cubic kilometers of magma.   There are more than 1.5 million people in the  "red zone", and only a few tens of thousands have taken advantage of an Italian government buy-out designed to reduce the population of the zone.

An aerial view of the excavated area -- additional areas have been reached by tunneling.  The excavated area is very small compared to Pompeii (only a few square blocks = insulae), but, still, think of the arduous task of removing all of that heat-consolidated rock.  The debris that buried Pompeii had already cooled to the point that the particles would not fuse together (but were still hot enough to kill everyone instantly.)   Herculaneum, at four kilometers from the vent, was only one third the distance that Pompeii
was, so the debris was correspondingly hotter -- hot enough to melt itself together and to fool generations of experts who thought it had arrived as a relatively slow-moving mud-flowFor the first twelve hours of the eruption, only a fine dusting of ash fell on the town.  Then the Plinian eruptive column -- the trunk of that "pine tree" collapsed, and the first pyroclastic surge/flow pair rolled over Herculaneum about four minutes later.  If you happened to be looking up hill  -- and many people undoubtedly were -- you could see it coming but had little chance of escape.  It's probable that this is when those who had gone down to the shoreline hoping to escape by sea  fled into the arched boat sheds where they were found more than 1900 years later.
The map shows the excavated are in yellow and areas reached by tunneling in red.  It is assumed that even larger areas have never been excavated:  unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was resettled soon after the eruption and has been continuously occupied since.  Initial exploration of the ruins was by tunneling -- by happenstance in the area of the theater and the Villa of the Papyri.  Excavation (meaning removal of large areas of volcanic overlay) began in earnest in the 19th century, and only very slowly has urban land been acquired to continue digging.  The current policy, as in Pompeii, is to consolidate and preserve rather than to dig up additional areas.  The most controversial aspect of this policy concerns the Villa of the Papyri where document specialists want to look for the supposed (actually, just wished-for) Latin library.
Streets in Herculanum were wider than those in Pompeii, and steping stones to cross streets were not necessary -- underground sewers kept the streets relatively clean of the kind of effluent that flowed in Pompeii's gutters.
Luxury pottery found in Herculanum vs. tons of locally made wares in Pompeii.
Extravagant architectural details and high end fresco work was common.
Many mosaics -- much more expensive to instsll and maintain
Because of local topography and the characteristics of the pyroclastic surges/flows that burried Herculanum, there was a greater chance of survival of upper levels of structures.
The view is from the top of the sixty-foot-deep volcanic overlay down into the area that was the pre-79 AD waterfront.  The arches are entrances to boat sheds -- where hundreds of sets of human remains have recently been found.  The sheds are currently under active excavation and are not open to the public.
Judging by the statues of Balbus and the dedicatory inscriptions around town, by the time of the 79 AD eruption he was Herculanum's greatest benefactor.
Not on the Bay of Naples, but rather the Cinque Terra much further up the coast in Liguria -- included here as an indicator of the assumed Herculaneum lifestyle.  From literary and archeological sources, we believe that Herculaneum was more of a tourist and resort town than was Pompeii.  The excavated and tunneled areas of Herculaneum were close to the shore, where the rich folks lived and tourists partied, so they may give a skewed impression of the character of the community.  Probably, like the Cinque Terra towns, Herculaneum had "real" neighborhoods a few blocks inland, where the locals lived.
Another coastal community where villas of the rich line the shore.  This one is Malibu, California, where one of the best-preserved Roman villas is still standing.
The Balbus family, Herculanum's preeminent benefactors, are thought to have owned the compound (made up of several earlier properties) at the southwest corner of the excavated aree and adjacent to the "Suburban Baths", which M. Nonius Balbus had donated to the City.
The was the house is presented now in the ruins of Herculanum, it's hard to understand that the columns around the atrium did not just prove a walkway around an open courtyard.  In fact, they supported the second storey balcony with whole suites of rooms behind it, and above the second storeu was an inward slanted tile compluvium roof from which rainwater drained into the impluvium pool shown and thence into the underground cistern below the impluvium.
Although the Balbus family was undoubtedly rich, they weren't averse to saving a few denarii on corstruction costs.  The deluxe red marble collumns around their atrium turned out to be faux -- brick covered in stucco and painted to look like real marble.  They are built just like the atrium collumns
in the post-Civil War building in Washington DC that now houses the US National Building Museum.
Until the ruins of this room in the Telephus Relief House were uncovered, nobody knew that the Romans (at least the Herculaneans) knew how to build suspended ceilings like the one illustrated here. They were thought to be another Italian Renaissance invention.  It appears, however that the architectural knowledge was actually lost and was, in fact, reinvented during the Renaissance -- there are no known European examples between this on and the suspended ceiling of the Renaissance.

Because of its location and the lay of the land, multiple levels of the House of the Telephus Relief survived (southwest corner of town, away from the volcano, lowest level on the beach two floors below city level).
The relief is sometimes identified as an Achilles piece, but the archeologist decided to identify it and the house by the lesser known character.
For many years, archeologists thought that the population of Herculaneum had evaded the reaper and just got out of town before the Peleean phase of the 79 AD eruption began.  In recent years, jumbles of their bones have been found at the back of those shore-line boat sheds.  It's not known whether they were hiding  as far away from the entrances as possible or whether the force of the pyroclastic blast threw them to the back of the caves.  We, of course, know that it's possible to survive such a blast in a cave -- haven't we all seen Dante's Peak and other hollywood eruptions?
At the ends of the excavated sections of Herculanese streets there is usually a cut into the rock that ends with a locked iron grate or doorway.  In past years, it was possible to bribe your way past the gates (still is if you bribe high enough, both in terms of who and how much to bribe), but the general public kept out.  The days are long gone when casual guides had keys that could get you under ground.  The real reason the passages are closed is just the one the officials tell you:  they have been neglected and are no longer safe.  Some passages are flooded, some have caved in, and, yes, poisonous volcanic gas still accumulates.  Just as importantly, as tourist numbers go up, it's harder to keep track of all of them.  Even if you find an open tunnel, it's really not a good idea to go in:   the tunnels are also haunted, according to local lore.
The tunnels to the theater are all closed, and there's no money to make them safe and open them again.  But you can still see the theater, or at least a reasonable facsimile.  King Stanislaus Poniatowski built a replica of the theater on his palace grounds in Warsaw in the 18th century, shortly after the Herculaneum theater was explored.  He made a few changes:  the stage is on an island and the semi-circular cavea (seating) is on shore while the orchestra is a flooded former bed of a branch of the Vistula River.  Stanislaus built his theater to look like the Herculaneum theater was found by the diggers, not as it looked before the eruption.  The outdoor Warsaw theater has a lively summer season and is now called either the Lazienki Theater or the Chopin Theater in Lazienki Park.
A drawing of the tunnels into the Herculaneum Theater from the 18th century.  Alcubierre headed the tunneling effort, and his main goal was to find statuary for the palace of the King of Naples -- statues that are now in the National Archeological Museum in Naples.
Four public baths were discovered Herculaneum.   Two are in the excavated area, one set is tunneled, and the fourth was refilled with rubble from additional tunneling.  The two that are accessible are called the Urban Baths and the suburban baths.  Because of its location, the suburban baths are better preserved.  In this picture the entrance shrine -- almost like a "holy water" font in a Christian church -- is visible.  Romans entering the baths were expected to sprinkle themselves and the statue in remembrance of the original ritual purpose attached to bathing.  The lower half of the picture is the calidarium or hot room.
The exterior of the Suburban baths is in surprisingly good repair.  Unlike the Urban (or Forum) baths, the suburban baths did not have separate sections for men and women.  It's assumed that men and women came at different times or on different days.  Later in the Roman imperial period, mixed bathing became common, but there were occasional decrees against it.  The repetition of such decrees indicates that mixed bathing must have persisted.  Roman baths mostly faded away in the Western Empire after aqueducts that fed them were damaged by invaders and there was no longer enough local manpower to put them back into repair (but there are still some in use -- Tivoli near Rome for example).  In the Eastern Empire  they were redecorated over the centuries and became "Turkish baths".
The Forum or Urban Baths had separate sections for men and women.  This is the men's changing room -- a partitioned shelf along each side was where bathers' clothing was stacked.  One of the shelves is missing, but the marks where it was hung are clearly visible.  Public baths usually opened late in the morning and stayed open until sunset, but if there was greater demand, the would open earlier and stay open later at night, lit by oil lamps.
A resting area ("conversation pit"?) with a suitably watery mosaic.   This one, in fact, is one of the better -- and therefore more famous -- Roman mosaics to come from the Campania Region.  There were better ones in Rome, but the best are in North Africa where Roman nobles built fine resort villas and where imperial officials fattened on local corruption.  The next image is North African Roman, for comparison.
The Tiger Mosaic from Roman Carthage is now in the Bardo Museum in Tunis City, Tunisia.  The Bardo, without question, has the best collection of Roman mosaics, all local North African finds.
The imagery is considered to be sexual; the Roman tutor was expected to initiate his pupil, first in their homosexual relationship, an then, when the boy approached the age of citizenship (13 or 14 years old) to help him find/hire his first heterosexual partner.  Chiron appears to be plucking the strings of the Kithara, but everyone knew that the kithara was not the only thing he plucked.  Actual physical intimacy with a centaur?  Boggles the mind. fresco.jpg fresco.jpg
Called by the prudish excavators a "banquet scene" it's clearly something else.  The diminutive slave girl in the background is using her iPhone to take pictures.
This and the following image show finds from the Herculanum Basilica.
As mentioned above, many more buildings in Herculaneum seem to have retained their upper floors.  Various theories -- none of them certain -- have been offered as to why this is so.  Perhaps the terrain deflected the ground-hugging pyroclastic surges that did so much damage elsewhere, or perhaps the buildings in Herculaneum were more structurally sound not having been burdened with the weight of the heavy ash fall, which landed on Pompeii, or perhaps the buildings were just stronger to begin with.  Some experts say the pyroclastic flow just arrived so fast that the quick buildup around the buildings actually supported them.  Whatever the cause, Herculaneum, although much smaller than Pompeii, has yielded much more information about upstairs life.  Among other things found were sets of legal documents in three of the upstairs rooms in the first row of houses on the right side of the picture, among them a case involving whether a person was freeborn or slave and another pertaining to the application of a freedman to join the Augustales priesthood, those who maintained the temple of the Imperial cult.
Roman water and sewerage works were usually quite sophisticated.  Pompeii had rainwater drainage problems and therefore needed those famous stepping-stones for crossing from one side of the street to the other -- the modern equivalent are the raised wooden walkways used in Venice during "high water."  The absence of stepping stones in Herculaneum points to better rainwater management.  Sewers ran beneath the streets in Herculaneum, and there were drains along the curbs, much like those in the Washington DC area.  Fresh water delivery was through lead pipes, which were often embedded in concrete sidewalks.  Examples of sewer and water delivery lines are shown in the picture.
The important buildings in the excavated area are all mapped out for tourists, and all can be seen by a casual visitor in a few hours.  The really, exciting stuff is in tunnels which are off-limits.  As with Pompeii, much of Herculaneum's best art is in the National Archeological Museum in Naples.
Every set of archeological pictures needs one of these shots with a leafy bough hanging over the top.
Like the houses in Pompeii, those in Herculaneum got their names mostly by what archeologists found inside.  There was a lot of carbonized furniture to be found, and some of it was left intact when the treasure hunters swooped through.  The major part of the real Herculaneum excavations -- i.e., earth removal rather than tunneling -- was done under the supervision of serious scholars while the royal treasure hunters were tunneling elsewhere for gold and statuary.
Examples of Herculaneum cabinetry.  The piece on the right has attracted particular attention as a wished-for Christian shrine -- above it was found pretty much the only cross-shaped outline in the ruins.  Never mind that the cross was, until several centuries later, not used in Christian iconography -- it was considered a shameful and disgraceful image.  Christ was, in those early years, always shone with the iconographic symbols of Apollo, and, if we can believe the Gospels, he himself used some Apollo imagery to describe himself.  The "Light of the World" was Sol Invictus or Apollo.  In addition, the Christians had no monopoly of executed or even crucified saviors -- see for relevant non-Christian iconography and parallels.  Like most archeologists, I think the cross-shaped outline is a place where a standard shelf bracket was attached over a dry sink, which is what the piece of wooden furniture is.
Opus craticum was what we would call half-timbering, and it was done the same way from pre-roman times until the mid 20th century when the look was kept but the process was abandoned.  In opus craticum a wood frame was built and then laths or sticks were strung between the framing members.  Stucco (plaster) was applied to both sides of the lath, and then whitewashed.  The Romans had some really good hydraulic plasters for water-proofing, but little better than mud was used most of the time for opus craticum.  What's remarkable here is not the work but that the flimsy and shoddy construction survived the eruption.  There may have been a lot more of this stuff around in the upper floors of ancient Roman buildings, but little survived except this carbonized example.  Most of what you see at the site is 19th and 20th century reconstruction.
The Mosaic atrium house got its name from the complex geometric mosaics in the atrium and connecting rooms, but the most remarkable feature of the house, not recognized until the other name was attached to it, was the glass enclosed verandah.  If anyone ever asks if the Romans had glass windows, this is the showpiece.  Big wooden frames held big panes of glass.  The glass, of course, did not survive intact, but most of the frames are still there as charcoal.  They carbonized frames are now mostly sheathed in plastic for protection against the elements.
The same veranda in an isometric drawing showing drainage channels that carried water from the windows to the ground-level garden outside.  It was really a remarkable piece of work and the only thing of its kind to survive from the Roman world or anywhere else around the Mediterranean of that time.
The mosaics are extensive, well designed, and well executed.  most of the ensemble is in very good condition although right around the impluvium in the center of the atrium the floor is badly warped.
Herculaneum, at least the part that has been explored or excavated, has a much more open pattern than Pompeii.  It appears to have been a rectangular-planned town rather than one that grew haphazardly like Pompeii on uneven terrain.  There were fewer buildings per block (insula) and less mixing of residential, commercial, and industrial space use.  This may, however, be a function of which section of Herculaneum has been explored -- blocks further back from the sea front may be more mixed.  From all appearances, however, Herculaneum was really just a resort for the rich (as it was described in contemporary sources) with just enough commercial activity -- corner groceries, etc. -- to keep the resident nabobs happy.  Think of the resort towns on the barrier islands on the US Atlantic coast -- without the hurricanes, but with the occasional volcanic interruption
The House of the Deer (Casa dei Cervi) was so named for a statue in the garden. The  exterior, as it is today is unremarkable, but it was a very rich house with two separate courtyard gardens and, of course, its impressive statuary -- especially the deer.
An inlaid marble floor also distinguishes the Casa dei Cervi.  The style, known in Latin as opus sectile (approximately meaning, "sectored" work) is here executed in what has always been one of  the most expensive and rare marbles, now known as giallo antico or "antique yellow".
The eponymous deer being attacked by a hunting pack.  Neither the foreground nor the background statue are originals -- they are both in museums.  The background statue is Hercules with his club and lion skin thrown over his shoulder.  He's gotten old and fat -- I can sympathize.  And he's relieving himself in public -- I haven't gotten there yet.
Fresco artist's show-off piece?  Several images in Herculanum, Pompeii, and opulent nearby villas feature clear glass vessels containg either liquids, fruit, etc. -- mot easy to portray in any media, but very hard to do in fresco.
The Bicentenary house is so-called because excavation reached a "naming point" on the 200th anniversary of the start of excavation in Herculaneum -- an arbitrary date in 1738 that the archeologists and ideologues wanted to publicize in 1938.  Its most remarkable find was a still workable folding grillwork partition.  The carbonized original was too fragile to be left on the site, so what you see now is a black painted replica.
Considered to be the oldest "big" (i.e., rich) house in the town, the Samnite House certainly dates from the pre-Roman Oscan/Samnite period of the Campania (the Samnites were part of the Oscan language group, or the other way around, depending on which linguist tells you the story.)  It has a two-storey atrium that is very ornate.  Atrium houses, which became the standard for big Roman houses in cities (the Roman "Domus") appear to have originate with the Samnites:  at least the earliest known examples are Samnitic and existed well before the Romans were rich enough to build such big buildings.  Interestingly, when the Romans did start to build and decorate this way, moralists objected that it was wasteful and inconsistent with Roman "virtu".  The Cato's -- Elder and Younger -- railed against extravagance as did Cicero in several speeches about too conspicuous consumption.  We are (I think) still waiting for the first Roman atrium house in Arlington.  I'd do it if I had the money.
The Samnite atrium that gave the house its name, looking toward the front door.
The Neptune-Amphitrite house got its name from this mosaic.  Modern scholarship classifies Pompeian and Herculanese houses by their size and by their artwork.  Big and more fully decorated houses are, of course, deemed the richest and trendiest.  The last big trend before the eruption that buried the area was the addition of big mythological subjects, and mosaics were infinitely more "in" than frescoes.  This mosaic marked the house's owner as a social lion -- maybe even the head of the pride.  It is part of a larger outdoor triclinium ensemble pictured below.
The same mosaic seen in its place.  The arched feature with the two rectangular side niches was a nymphaeum  -- a tres chic "water feature".  Both the mythological mosaic and the mosaic nymphaeum decorated an outdoor triclinium or dining area where people reclined on slanted (padded) lounges to eat.  The usually reclined three-to-a-couch, hence the "tri" in triclinium.  Whoever ate here clearly had the towns highest-class host.
One month before the eruption of 79 AD Titus visited Herculaneum and Pompeii to renew the Imperial cult in the name of his recently deceased father, Vespasian.  He would have visited this building, which was the headquarters and meeting place of the Augustales -- Priests of the Augustan cult.  This was not the temple of the cult, but it, naturally, had an Augustan shrine.  A new statue of Vespasian would have been on the pedestal and new coins dedicated to the deified deceased emperor would have been distributed.
This was, after all, Herculaneum, a town dedicated to and supposedly founded by Hercules, a demi-god and hero.  The two sides of the Augustan shrine in the Hall of the Augustales were decorated with Hercules, Juno, and Minerva on one side and Hercules with his club and lion skin on the other.  It also has a fine opus sectile marble floor.
The most sumptuous villa on the fringe of town -- at least so far discovered -- is called the Villa dei Papiri or the Villa of the Papyri.  It is thought to have belonged the Calpurnii, the family of the father-in-law of Julius Caesar.  Lucius Calpurnius Piso was the father of Calpurnia, she who was spurned when he took up with Cleopatra.  That's another long story for a different time and place.  At any rate, the alternate name of the house is Villa Pisonis (or Pisonensis).  Piso was well known to have indulged and endowed a previously itinerant Stoic philosopher named Philodemus and was reputed to have the best private library in the Campania if not in the Roman world.  When, in 1778, workers came upon thousands of carbonized scrolls, many of which when finally unrolled turned out to be Philodemian commentaries on stoicism, it was easy to identify the Villa as Piso's -- it helped that written sources had said he had plush digs in the area.
Tunneling in, around and through the Vill was extensive (but not complete -- see below.)  The building itself was most impressive and there were all those scrolls and then hundreds of bronze and marble sculptures -- more evidence that it was Piso's villa as he was an avid and very wealthy collector.  The image show an overall plan and a magnification of the main Villa (i.e., without the belvedere on the next rise.)  Look closely and you can see the outlines of the tunnels.  There was certainly enough tunneling to get a very good architectural outline of the structures and to elucidate the decorations which graced it.  Only in the last few years has partial real excavation begun.
In the 20th century, another rich collector, oil billionaire J. Paul Getty decided that the Villa of the Papyri just had to be duplicated.  He built it as a residence in 1971 but died before he could move in, leaving behind a cool $2 billion as an endowment, making it the richest museum in the world.  It was closed for several years -- first for renovations and then by a NIMBY lawsuit brought by neighbors.  The Getty Trust won the lawsuit and the museum (actually half -- the other campus is in Los Angeles) re-opened in February of 2006.  The picture is of a model, which does not show new additions.
  Below are some images of the Getty gallery in Malibu, which as closely as possible was built and decorated to be an exact copy of the Villa of the Papyri.  Ih as recently been reopened in 2006 as a research center and museum after being closed for a number of years.  The Getty collections include more than 44,000 Greek, Etruscan, and Roman artifacts, which are displayed on a rotating basis.  For More information, see and
The large pool: a smaller one is in an inside courtyard. Bronze statues were cast from the originals and marble sculpture are point-for-point copies of the Roman marbles (which, of course, were point for point copies of Greek bronzes).  They are all over the villa in great profusion.
One of the porticoes of Getty Malibu in the "First Style" of Pompeii -- stucco panels simulating marble. There were three succeeding styles -- or better said, additional styles.  They were all eventually used simultaneously in different rooms of the same big houses and the first three had diffused to lower societal levels by the time of the 79 AD eruption.
Real marble used as it was in the Villa of the Papyri.
The "Room of the Tholos Wall" is a copy of a Third Style room in the Villa of the Papyri.  The tholos is the round structure on the wall to the left.  All the architectural decorations, including those around the doorway, are painted on the walls:  That's what Third Style mainly was.
The "Five Dancing Women" statues from the Villa of the Papyri are posing, not dancing, although the first one on the left does seem to be holding a figure from a anachronistic Neapolitan Tarantella.  They are now in the National Archeological Museum in Naples and copies are in both the Herculaneum site museum and in the Malibu Getty.  Recent studies of the statuary indicates that these most famous of the Villa dei Papiri sculptures are cheaply made and even composed from stock molds.  ("Composed" sets of bronzes use molds to repeat the same hands, arms, clothing pieces, faces, etc., for "lost wax" from which the mold for each sculpture is made.   Features on these statues show too much in common not to be composed.)
Some of the scrolls that gave the Villa its name.
The Papyri are extremely fragile and once unrolled -- an arduous process using complicated machines based on a very old model (see handouts)  they are extremely difficult to read.  Think black on black or brown on brown.  Most inks of the day were based on black carbon and these scrolls are carbonized. The fluid  that carried the carbon-black was usually slightly acid, so there are traces of acid damage that can be worked with, as long as the acid did not eat all the way through and into the next layer.  New processes based on NASA imaging of planetary and other surfaces has helped.  The main NASA process is called multi-spectral photography.  In its simplest and oldest form, light of different colors was filtered out and only certain wavelengths reached the films.  When recombined and manipulated, details of surfaces, planetary or documentary, could be brought up.  Newer imaging methods involving electronic light filters and detectors have made it possible to work with many more frequencies,
and computers have made manipulation of the images easier.  Some of this can be done with off-the-shelf computer programs and even more with proprietary programs.  Brigham Young University is a big player in the effort to read the Papyri from the Villa dei Papiri (see as is UCLA which is involved in the Philodemus Project (see  Attempts to use computerized tomography to read scrolls that are still rolled are still in the experimental stage.
What multi-spectral photography can do.  Much more is available at the two web sites given with the previous image.
The Villa of the Papyri  was also the source of the largest trove of ancient bronze statuary -- scores of life-size and larger full-scale statues, busts, and herms.  There were at least four bronze foundries around the Bay of Naples in ancient times, and some patterns were reproduced extensively.  It appears that, in addition to making replicas, they also turned out fakes of "original" Greek bronze work, replete wit missing limbs, age marks, and other "flaws" designed to fool unsuspecting buyers.  Even such sophisticates as Piso, the probable owner of the Villa of the Papyri,
(or his heirs) could be fooled.  At least one of his bronze busts, the "Archaeistic Apollo", was a fake.
The ancient fake "Archaeistic Apollo" (or perhaps just a kouros -- a young man) was acquired by Piso or his heirs.  The "wear and tear" at the bottom of the left shoulder -- the uneven edge and "corrosion" -- and similar flaws and drip marks on the back were all molded in at the time of its manufacture.   It is called "archaeistic" because it was manufactured to look like a truly old, i.e., "archaic", piece of sculpture.

The "pseudo-Seneca" bust was once thought to be Seneca, who had been Nero's tutor.  When it was first mounted in the Naples Archeological Museum it was leaned forward as seen in the picture.  Some modern "authorities" say it should show a man with his head thrown back, perhaps in laughter.

An unidentified old man with shaven head.
A closer view of the same bust, to show details -- the eye is ivory with a glass pupil. Note also the individual hairs of the eyebrows, which would have been carved by hand into the wax original, the crows-foot at the corner of the eye, and the individual hair follicles picked out on the scalp.  The highlighted scratches on the forehead are later additions -- part of the process of making molds in the 18th or 19th century for making bronze and plaster copies.
Dreadlock man -- Bronze bust of a young man with twisted hair.  The locks were made separately and welded to the head.
One of two larger-than-life bronze runners found in the villa.  The image was popular all over the Empire.
Bronze seated or resting athlete
The "dancers" are not really dancing:  this one is fastening her garment at the shoulder.  The bronze work of is not up to Piso's normal standard -- maybe purchased by a less cultured descendant?
Piso also collected marble sculptures -- at least 80 have been excavated.  This one is sometimes identified as Piso, but for no particular reason.
Athena spreads her protective mantel (her aegis).  This is sometimes incorrectly identified as a copy of the Athena Promachos, a colossal (30 foot tall) bronze statue sculpted by Pheidias in 450 BC -- no proven copy is known to exist.  It is, however, a generic Athena Promachos (Athena "a front-line fighter") in a characteristic pose with a thrusting spear (missing) and her left arm and her mantel extended protectively.  Written sources and coin images of the Pheidian colossus sometimes show her without the mantel and with a shield resting against he right leg.  Athena Promachos images were very common and varied considerably.  The imagery of Athena Promachos certainly predated Pheidias, and even then it was current in various forms.  The statue by Pheidias was transported to Constantinople in the late 5th century AD and was destroyed
there in 1203 by a superstitious mob, who believed that Athena was beckoning the Crusaders to enter the city.  The destruction of the colossus did not deter the Crusaders, who sacked the city anyway the next year.
The basilica in the Herculaneum forum was leveled by the earthquake of 62 AD, and was rapidly reconstructed by a local politician (a Proconsul), Marcus Nonius Balbus.  Balbus then decorated the Basilica with marble portrait statues of his family and of the labors of Hercules.  He erected  equestrian statues of himself and his son out front.  The image is of Balbus Minor (the son) and is now in the Naples archeological museum.  Statues such as this would have been painted in naturalistic colors.  Paint was, in fact, recorded on many of the statues from the basilica when they were discovered in the late 18th century -- Alcubierre's tunnels had reached the Basilica in 1739, but it took many years to extract the statuary and some remarkable frescoes.  Unfortunately, the paint was washed off during the cleaning process prior to their display of the sculptures in the National Archeological Museum in Naples.  Only recently was a head  of a statue recovered which still had visible paint.  The story of the Amazon's head (identifiable by its swept back hairstyle) hit the world media at the end of March 2006.
A ecently found polychrome Amazon's head.  It was separated from the rest of the statue during the 79 AD eruption and found in the talus at the base of a collapsed escarpment.   The Amazon may have been associated with the story the ninth of the twelve "Labors" of Hercules, in which he has to retrieve the belt of Hippolyte, the Amazon queen.
Several extraordinary frescoes were recovered from the Herculaneum basilica and mounted in the Naples National Archeological Museum.  These two show (1) Hercules recognizing Telephus, his bastard son, in the presence of Arcadia (Telephus is the child being suckled by a roe deer in the lower left of the fresco) and (2) Chiron, the wise centaur and
the only immortal centaur, teaching the youthful Apollo how to play the lyre.  Chiron taught several Greek gods and heroes including Apollo, Achilles, Aesclepius, Acteon, and Hercules.   Chiron, an innocent bystander, was accidentally wounded in the knee by an arrow shot by Hercules, during a fight with other Centaurs over a jar of wine.  Chiron's wound would not heal -- the arrow had been dipped in the blood of the monster, Hydra -- and, because of his immortality, he live on in terrible pain.  To gain relief,  he eventually traded his immortality for the release of his friend, Prometheus.