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Buried by Vesuvius: The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum

Edited by Kenneth Lapatin

The Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum, the model for the Getty Villa in Malibu, is one of the world’s earliest systematically investigated archaeological sites. Buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, the Villa dei Papiri was discovered in 1750 and excavated under the auspices of the Neapolitan court. Never fully unearthed, the site yielded spectacular colored marble floors and mosaics, frescoed walls, the largest known ancient collection of bronze and marble statuary, intricately carved ivories, and antiquity’s only surviving library, with more than a thousand charred papyrus scrolls. For more than two and a half centuries, the Villa dei Papiri and its contents have served as a wellspring of knowledge for archaeological science, art history, classics, papyrology, and philosophy.

Buried by Vesuvius offers a sweeping yet in-depth view of all aspects of the site. Presenting the latest research, the essays in this authoritative and richly illustrated volume reveal the story of the Villa dei Papiri’s ancient inhabitants and modern explorers, providing readers with a multidimensional understanding of this fascinating site.

This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa June 26 to October 28, 2019.

Kenneth Lapatin is curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books and articles on ancient art and its modern reception, including Guide to the Getty Villa (Getty Publications, 2018), Luxus: The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome (Getty Publications, 2015), Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World (Getty Publications, 2015), and The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection (Getty Publications, 2012).

“The definitive work on the Villa of the Papyri.”
—The Herculaneum Society

“This beautifully illustrated and masterfully arranged exhibition catalogue is a requirement for anyone interested in classical antiquity. . . . The catalogue is organized in four sections, each with superb photographs and detailed descriptions making the content understandable not solely for scholars of antiquity but also for readers new to the subject matter. . . . An exceptional catalogue unlike any current or past scholarly project on the subject to date.”
—Lisa White Gastrell, The Classical Journal Online

“Specialists will welcome it as an authoritative survey of the state of play on the many questions the villa gives rise to, but non-specialists will welcome it for its exceptional photographs and authoritative descriptions of an impressive selection of the riches of the villa.”
—Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, The Art Newspaper

“The essays are short, informative and well written, and embrace a range of topics including the Herculaneum villa’s ancient context, its rediscovery in the eighteenth century, its contents (including what the catalogue heralds as “antiquity’s only surviving library”), recent excavations and hi-tech attempts to unwrap the carbonized texts.”
Times Literary Supplement

“A major intellectual contribution in its own right.”
The Burlington Magazine

“The book is easily accessible and free of jargon, thus making it useful for students and scholars alike. It is an enormous contribution to the literature on Herculaneum in general and on the Villa dei Papiri in particular, and will be a crucial source for all future research on these and related topics.”
Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“A welcome and holistic approach to heritage. . . . Very much worth reading.”
—Graham Voce, News in Conservation

276 pages
9 x 11 inches
276 color and 16 b/w illustrations
1 gatefold map
ISBN 978-1-60606-592-1

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum