Η φύση έσωσε την μοναδική αρχαία βιβλιοθήκη καλύπτοντας την με την λάβα του Βεζούβιου, στο Herculaneoum στις 25 Αυγούστου 79 π.Χ, ώρα 01:00 π.μ. Φυσικά ήταν μια βιβλιοθήκη Επικούρειων.
At one o’clock on the morning of August 25, 79AD, a blast of burning gas and a wave of molten mud engulfed Herculaneum, preserving the only Ancient Roman library that has ever been found. Now, archaeologists are finally hoping to excavate tens of thousands of scrolls, which may include lost works by Aristotle, Sophocles and Catullus. Excavation work has restarted on the famous Villa dei Papyri after an eight-year gap. “It is impossible, absolutely impossible, to excavate this villa without finding fantastic things,” said Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, the director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project. “We may find the lost scrolls of Aristotle, or we may find something even more exciting that we had not even thought of yet.” Of the 100 plays written by Sophocles, only seven have ever been found. Euripides also wrote 100 plays, the vast majority of which have been lost. The enormous villa, which lies just outside Herculaneum, belonged to Lucius Calpurnius Piso, Julius Caesar’s father-in-law. Around 1,800 scrolls, of middling importance, have been recovered since the villa was found 250 years ago, but archaeologists have only recently discovered two extra floors to the building. Work on the site halted in 1999 after a previous excavation because of fears about the conservation of the site. Because the site lies four metres below the waterline, it is constantly flooded. In addition, the previous dig unearthed an unexpected complex of buildings that needed urgent restoration. Meanwhile, the first work on the main site of Herculaneum for almost 30 years could begin as early as next year, with the aim of unearthing a collection of public records that will reveal the daily life of the city. Unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was almost perfectly preserved after the eruption of Vesuvius, down to the tiniest detail. However, the site, which was only discovered by mistake during the 18th century, mostly lies underneath a modern-day suburb of Naples. “The parts we have excavated so far are only around a third of the entire site,” said Mr Wallace-Hadrill. “But it is a bit difficult to expropriate the land to excavate the Villa dei Papyri, since it lies underneath the modern town hall,” he joked. “Many of the cellars of the modern houses are only a metre or so above the Ancient Roman ruins,” he added. The grotty tenements of modern Herculaneum lean precariously over the excavation site. The area is now a stronghold of the Camorra, or Neapolitan Mafia, and buying up land to continue excavating has been near-impossible. However, Mr Wallace-Hadrill revealed that digging on the Basilica would begin next year. “The breakthrough was that two palazzi collapsed last year, which convinced the residents above that it was not safe,” he said. The new excavation work will be funded by a £1.5 million grant from the Packard Humanities Institute, founded by a scion of Hewlett Packard computer empire. The work on the Villa dei Papyri is being funded by a £2 million-a-year grant from the European Union and the Region of Campania. “We know what is underneath because of tunnels dug in the 18th century, which brought up all sorts of statues and frescoes,” said Mr Wallace-Hadrill. The Basilica, which would have served as a town meeting hall, should contain public records of life in Herculaneum that would be invaluable to classical historians. Last year, the first complete painted statue ever found, the bust of an Amazon warrior, was unearthed from near the Basilica.