The legend tells the founding of Herculaneum by Hercules in 1243 BC, while historians concord it was originated by indigenous people such as the Oscan or the Etruscans. During the Roman Empire it became a resort for wealthy people and intellectuals. Unlike Pompeii, in 79 AD, Herculaneum was buried by 25 meters of muds and other volcanic elements.
This important philosophical center got totally forgotten until 1709, when a farmer unearthed precious marbles during digging works for a well. This event quickly reached the local governors, leading to the first excavations. Amongst the valuable findings, the Villa dei Papiri is surely the most important one, called after the library which at that time contained up to 1800 papyruses. To date, despite its extension, second only to Pompeii’s, only a small portion of the ancient city has been excavated, with archaeologists regularly busy with new discoveries. The Baths, along with the College of the Priests of Augustus and a theatre are all almost completely intact. Also extant are the House of the Bicentenary and the House of Stags, which contain ample courtyards and are rich in decoration. Herculaneum was a thriving commercial zone, and various jars and containers filled with foodstuffs resisted the destruction and subsequent burial from the eruption.