Herculaneum Conservation Project

The Herculaneum Conservation Project was set up by David W. Packard, President of the Packard Humanities Institute (a philanthropic foundation), with the aim of supporting the Italian State, through the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei (the local heritage authority), in preserving this uniquely valuable, but at the same time fragile, archaeological site. The Herculaneum Conservation Project was conceived in the summer of 2000 and formalized by the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2001 by the Packard Humanities Institute and the Soprintendenza. A sponsorship agreement in 2004 (renewed in 2009) saw the British School at Rome come to the project as a third active partner. The result of this is a collaborative project with the principal objectives of conserving and enhancing the ancient city of Herculaneum.

The overall aim of the Herculaneum Conservation Project is to support the Soprintendenza to safeguard and conserve, to enhance, and to advance the knowledge, understanding and public appreciation of the ancient site of Herculaneum and its artefacts.

Its main objectives are:

  • to slow down the rate of decay across the entire site so that it can be maintained in future on a sustainable basis;
  • to test and implement long-term conservation strategies that are appropriate for Herculaneum and potentially applicable to other, similar sites;
  • to provide a basis of knowledge and documentation of Herculaneum so as to facilitate its future management;
  • to acquire new archaeological knowledge about Herculaneum derived as an integral element of the activities devoted to its preservation;
  • to conserve, document, publish and improve access to the artefacts found in excavations at Herculaneum;
  • to promote greater knowledge of and discussion about Herculaneum among the scientific community, the local population and the general public.

This final objective has proved so critical to long-term sustainability that the Herculaneum Conservation Project was pleased to be involved in supporting the creation and ongoing activities of the Herculaneum Centre.