Sunday, August 05, 2012

First-ever Roman roof reconstruction completed at Herculaneum

The roof of a Roman villa, thought to have belonged to a wealthy gov­er­nor, has been recon­struct­ed at the ancient city of Her­cu­la­neum.

For almost two mil­len­nia, the piles of wood lay undis­turbed and large­ly intact under lay­ers of hard­ened vol­canic mate­r­i­al. Now, after three years of painstak­ing work, archae­ol­o­gists at Her­cu­la­neum have not only exca­vat­ed and pre­served the pieces, but worked out how they fit­ted togeth­er, achiev­ing the first-ever full recon­struc­tion of the tim­ber­work of a Roman roof.

With sev­er­al dozen rooms, the House of the Tele­phus Relief was "top-level Roman real estate", said Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, the direc­tor of the Her­cu­la­neum Con­ser­va­tion Project (HCP). It was more of a palace or man­sion, thought to have been built for Mar­cus Non­ius Bal­bus, the Roman gov­er­nor of Crete and part of modern-day Libya, whose osten­ta­tious tomb was found near­by.