[Sorry, this post should have gone after the one about Pompeii]
Herculaneum was a complete surprise. Sydneysiders will understand the kind of town it was if I describe it as the 1st century equivalent of Palm Beach, with expensive houses by the sea and lovely gardens. Yes, that is Hercules doing something you wouldn’t expect a nice Roman god to do in public :-)) That area looking like a moat in the photo is actually where the seashore was, so you can see just how deep the excavators have had to dig in order to reach the ruins.
But all the Herculaneum citizens’ creature comforts didn’t help them when the town was submerged in a 16 metre thick sea of boiling mud in AD 79. Sadly 300 bodies were found huddled together on the beach where they died trying to launch their boats.