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Herculaneum‎ > ‎Villa of the Papyri‎ > ‎

Bourbon Excavation

Excavation of the Villa

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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.

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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).

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Most of 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.



Note:
The description of the excavations is based on the book 'Buried Herculaneum' by Ethyl Ross Barker published in 1908.




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