It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Herculaneum and Portici - Arts and Archives 2015

Wall paintings from Herculaneum
In the morning of our second day in Naples we took the train to Ercolano to visit the ancient Roman town Herculaneum which was destroyed by the volcanic pyroplastic flows of Vesuvius (ca 400 km/hr) in 79 AD.  Unlike Pompeii, the pyroclastic flows buried the town instantly preserving the organic material and artefacts without oxidation in nearly their original condition. Moreover, Herculaneum right on the ocean was a wealthier town than Pompeii, possessing an extraordinary density of fine houses, public gathering places (like temples, baths etc) and shops. Many buildings had businesses on the street level with living quarters on the second and third floors. Typically the floors were covered by rich mosaics.   Dr. Pia Kastenmeier was our outstanding guide; she is part of the Herculaneum Conservation Project and had been working on the site for 15 years.
(Welwitschia mirabilis can become 1500 yr old)

In the afternoon we visited the Orto Botanico di Portici which is housed in the former Palace for the King of Napoli in Portici. We got an excellent tour of the gardens; saw several rarities including a blooming Welwitschia mirabilis. We saw an extensive collection of different fruit illustrations about cultivated apple, orange, pear and plum varieties. Many of these varieties do not exist today. We had the pleasure to see the entomological collections, and also meet Mr. Bruno Espinosa, the department’s scientific illustrator.
(Some of the south Italian insects illustrated by Bruno Espinosa)

Prof. Stefano Mazzoleni, the director of the Musei delle Scienze Agrarie visited with us before we toured the restored royal living quarters of the Palace. In the evening, after returning to Naples, some of us spent a hectic hour at the Naples National Archaeological Museum to see the original mosaics and other artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum. 
(The mosaics were made in incredible detail)

See more pictures from our fifth day by clicking here.