Herculaneum to unearth ancient beach buried for nearly 2,000 years

Archaeologists to dig down to ancient Roman beach buried in 79 AD.

Herculaneum, the ancient Roman city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, is to begin excavating its hidden beach for the first time in 40 years.

Excavation works are to commence shortly at the Antica Spiaggia area, already partially excavated in the 1980s, announced the director of the Herculaneum archaeological park, Francesco Sirano.

During the last dig along the ancient shoreline, from 1980-1982, archaeologists discovered dozens of skeletons, including the famed 'Ring Lady,' named for the rings on her fingers.

Eventually they would uncover the remains of almost 300 people who died from the intense heat while waiting for rescue from the sea.

Excavations at Herculaneum - a smaller, more affluent city compared to nearby Pompeii - also uncovered a series of boat houses in which the last inhabitants perished.

The beach is now about four metres below the current sea level, a situation that has always posed problems for drainage and water regulation.

Herculaneum archaeological park

"We are resuming research on the ground with a renewed awareness of the complexity of the site and, thanks to a multidisciplinary approach, we expect further and solid insights," Sirano told Italian news agency ANSA.

Sirano also paid tribute to the work carried out by the Herculaneum Conservation Project (HCP), a pioneering public-private initiative begun in 2001 to protect, enhance and manage the archaeological site and its relationship to the surrounding area.

The new excavations will make it possible to reach the level of the western side of the beach as it was at the time of the eruption, reports ANSA.

The works, which are expected to last two and a half years, will also aim to restore the original levels of the beach, bringing back sand, and allowing visitors to stroll on the ancient coast as it was before that fateful day in 79 AD.

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Herculaneum to unearth ancient beach buried for nearly 2,000 years

Corso Resina, 187, 80056 Ercolano NA, Italy