The Villa of the Papyri is one of the greatest and luxurious roman residences, discovered during the Bourbon excavations, between 1750 and 1764.
The villa lays around 30 metres under the modern town, extending until the sea. In addition to the extraordinary collection of artworks, the excavation gave back a huge papyrus library containing a collection of both Greek and Latin literature.
The exploration was done through a tunnel system dug into the hard volcanic rock, under a Swiss engineer’s supervisione, Karl Jacob Weber, who realized a detailed plan of the layout of the villa, largely buried still today.
The Villa of papyrus was Lucio Calpurnio Pisone’s summer residence Lucio Calpurnio Pisone, Giulio Cesare’s fatherin-law. He was a person of letters and literatus, who protected poets and philosophers.
For want of the philosopher Philodemus of Gadara, he got to build at his house a library that became one of the most important cultural center of that time. Here, since the first excavations in 1752, archaeologists recovered about 2000 papyrus rolls which could give us back some aspects still unknown about the ancient Roman History.
Scholars and Greek and Latin linguists hope that between the papyri of Pisone’s villa, under the layer of mud, is still preserved also the last copy of Ennio’s “History of Rome”. It’s a work partly known, and its finding could contribute to the rewriting of the whole History of Rome.
It has been possible to recover the papyrus because the carbonization of the documents didn’t take place by the heat of the lava, but by a process of mineralization of the material that buried Herculaneum in 79 A.D.