map shows the relative positions of the Theatre, the Villa of the Papyri, the Northwest Insula and the large building referred to as the 'Basilica' by its eighteenth century excavators with respect to each other and to the open excavation site (coloured orange). The
detail and extent of the discoveries in the explored area is largely
due to the diligence of a Swiss engineer, Karl Weber, who made the
first map of the sub-terranean galleries and the buildings they led to.
His methodology was continued by the Spanish architect Francesco La
Vega who produced as complete a plan of Herculaneum as was possible
from the available evidence.
Because of the manner of its burial
and the fact that it lies beneath a populated area, the exact size of
Herculaneum is still unknown, but it appears to extend over an area
roughly 320m by 350m. The section excavated to date is in the southwest
corner of Herculaneum and covers about a quarter of the city.
Index of Buildings
(a) Numbering of Buildings in Herculaneum
any visitor to the site will observe, Herculaneum was laid out in an
orthogonal grid pattern of streets, the east-west streets (decumani)
intersecting the north-south streets (cardi) almost at right angles.
Two of the original decumani have been partially excavated, as have
three of the cardi. The main east-west axis was designated the
Decumanus Maximus by Amedeo Maiuri because of its width and the fact
that it runs adjacent to important civic buildings, such as the College
of the Augustales and the basilica.
The city blocks (insulae)
created by the grid of streets were usually divided in two from east to
west, then subdivided into properties of more or less the same width.
Measurements obtained have shown that, with the exception of the large
peristyle houses, house facades generally varied between 7m and 14m
wide; the northern halves of the insulae adjacent to the Decumanus
Maximus don't follow this pattern, but rather have been subdivided
lengthwise, so that the houses opened onto the decumanus rather than
the side streets.
The insulae have historically been numbered as
shown in the accompanying schematic. Hence we have Insula II - Insula
VII running anti-clockwise from Insula II. To the east are two
additional blocks: Orientalis I (oI) and Orientalis II (oII). To the
south of Orientalis I (oI) lies one additional group of buildings known
as the 'Suburban District' (SD).
define a property's location, each entrance in an insula has its own
individual number. Thus a property can be defined by its insula and
entrance number. For example, the House of the Deer is labelled (Ins IV, 3).
Each insula on this site has its own location plan, an expanded view of the insula showing
individual buildings and a table of all the properties within the
insula with door numbers, dimensions and a brief description. You may access each
dwelling by name from the list below, or select an insula from the above schematic (or the table below) and explore from there.
(b) Featured Buildings by Insula