Excavation of the Villa
Excavations along the south portico (r) of
the garden led to the discovery of several of the celebrated statues
known as 'The Dancers' (pictured right) and those west of the pond
and along the north side brought to light other famous bronzes.
Meanwhile in excavations around the atrium the rooms to the
left (s) and to the right (t) of the entrance (u), the columned porch
(v), the small garden with columned portico (w) and several small
rooms beyond (x, y and z) were all discovered during the latter
months of 1754 and the early months of 1755. In the rooms beyond the
small garden were found many fragments of broken amphorae.
|In June 1750, in the neighbourhood of the Convent of St
Augustine a shaft was sunk 300m to the northwest of the theatre. Here was
discovered, in what proved to be the west end of the garden, a
circular room (a) in the nature of a summer house (exedra). Proceeding
in a easterly direction, by January 1751 the excavators reached three small rooms (b, c
and d). Proceeding at right angles (along f, g) the western portico of
the garden was discovered as far as the west curve of the pond (e).
The early months of 1752 were occupied in carrying along
various parallel tunnels running eastwards, and thus the length of the
garden and pond were determined. In the process of digging these tunnels a large number of statues and busts
were found. The tablinum (h) was reached next, where in October
were found the first papyri. Parts of the rooms (i) south of the
tablinum were also excavated at this time.
Early the following year a few
more papyri (pictured above) were discovered in a room south of the tablinum, and at the same
time tunnels were carried into the rooms lying north and northeast of
the tablinum (j and k). By the end of the year the perimeter of the
peristyle (l) had been established.
Up to this point we have
the plan of Weber, on which the position of the statues (about half the
whole number) are actually marked along with other significant finds. After this point we have to rely on
written accounts accompanied by Weber's plan to locate the positions of the finds. However, De Petra, in the monograph
of the villa, added to Weber's plan the position of the statues
found subsequent to this date.
At the beginning of 1754 workmen came upon the
atrium (m). The west side of the atrium was then explored and at
the same time excavations were carried on in the rooms east of the
peristyle (n, o, p and q).
the four years following were taken up in exploring the large area of
garden round the fishpond and several other parts of the house. The total number of statues and busts found was ninety.
The description of the excavations is based on the book 'Buried Herculaneum' by Ethyl Ross Barker published in 1908.