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The Villa dei Papiri


Under Bourbon rule the villa was explored with wells and tunnels and not uncovered in open air excavations. The villa is exceptional for its architectural features and rich decoration which are comparable to an Imperial residence in quality, but it is particularly notable for the library, the only one of its kind to survive from the ancient world. Originally, the papyri, art works (sculptures, frescos and mosaics), and objects of daily use were housed in the Herculanense Museum at the royal palace in Portici, later in 1806 they were moved to the Palazzo degli Studi in Naples (which is now the National Archaeological Museum). Today, many seek the renewal of excavations at the villa in hopes of finding more texts and works of art never seen before. Moreover, a comprehensive study of the building will help clarify many of our questions about late Republican Roman culture.

In the 20th century, partial exploration (1986-1987) and excavations (1992-1997) have discovered that the structure extends on at least three new floors under the one recognized in the 18th century. Additionally, excavation uncovered new buildings which determine the relationship between the villa and the west side of the city of Herculaneum.

Following on an agreement between the government of Campania and the Superitendancy of Pompeii, a feasibility study for new excavations (studio di fattibilità) was proposed duly considering the possibility of integrating the archaeological site within the modern city of Herculaneum. It is hoped that this proposal is the prelude to renewed work on site.