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In ancient times, Herculaneum was a small Italian town with land-use plan that included roads that cross at right angles, perhaps along the lines of that of Neapolis. It was like Pompeii, the influence of Hellenistic culture. Located at the foot of Vesuvius, is just four miles from Neapolis.
About its origins, little known, Dionysius of Halicarnassus was the company founded by Heracles, and therefore, beyond any implication legendary, the thought of Greek origin, while Strabone - not reliably - the town felt a Oscan subsequently conquered by the Etruscans and Pelasgians and then by the Samnites, before becoming a Roman citizen.

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Today no longer believe, like Pompeii, the city has had Greek origin, although there is a primitive settlement in the coastal defense of the Gulf of Naples under the control of the Greeks of Cumae. By stratigraphic excavation seems like an Italian city that can not be traced back to before the fourth century BC It is unclear whether Herculaneum had a role in the second Samnite war, we know, however, that participated in the Social War, but was defeated and conquered nell'89 BC by a legate of Silla, Tito Didio, becoming City Hall under the power of Rome.
Until the first imperial age still have no information about events occurring in major cities. Herculaneum was a small town of the province, encouraged by a climate and an enchanting landscape. It was preferred to the Roman educated and affluent - not just in cities but particularly in the suburban villa of the papyri - and protected by powerful politicians close to the imperial family. He had special protection from Marco Nonio Balbus, proconsul of Vespasian to the Roman province which included Crete and Cyrenaica.
Just as the nearby Herculaneum Pompei also already severely damaged by the earthquake of 62, was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius (79), which covered her with a huge mass of mud, ash and other materials eruptive rainwater that dragged the water, penetrating in each opening, it solidifies into a hard and compact layer of 15-20 meters.
The eruption of Vesuvius is divided into two phases: the first was the total duration of 12 hours, with the fall of white and gray pumice and the second lasting seven hours constituted by alternating hot clouds and pyroclastic flows. And it was this second phase, which affected mainly Herculaneum, buried under a blanket of over 20 meters.
Following analysis termogravimetriche has argued that the temperature was about 300-320 C. This temperature would allow the preservation of papyrus, found in the villa known as Villa dei Pisoni Papiri or who have survived in more or less good as a result of a process of carbonization. If this were true do not understand how in some buildings - for example in suburban Terme - the wood is preserved in their natural color, a door turns on the hinges still original. This suggests that high temperature has affected only some parts of the city.
Herculaneum, as a city, not disappeared: indeed was later built a new city on the same site that hosted the ancient, though no longer the importance dell'insediamento earlier. As time passes, the memory of the ancient city was lost and was forgotten for many centuries. Until, in the eighteenth century, coincidentally, he rediscovered the existence, during the works for a well, in fact, came to light several items of Roman times. Started work on the excavation, still in progress and made difficult by the development of the modern city, under which there are probably still important artefacts.
Only in the second half of the'60s, the name resin, since the new city, was replaced by that old Italianized, back to being called Herculaneum. Since 1997, the archaeological area of Ercolano is part of the heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

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