- Seaside palace was in Herculaneum, a city destroyed in a volcanic eruption
- Broken timber from the building was found on a beach near the ruined city
- Paint traces left on the timber were used to restore building's bright colours
The roof of a seaside Roman palace destroyed by a volcanic eruption more than 2,000 years ago has been restored by scientists.
Broken timber from the brightly-coloured three-story building was unearthed by archaeologists working on a beach near the ruined city of Herculaneum in Italy.
Scientists were able to restore the palace's red, blue, yellow and green roof tiles by analysing paint traces from the recovered timber.
Scientists were able to restore the red, blue, yellow and green roof tiles of a seaside palace destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. Pictured is a reconstruction
HOUSE OF TELEPHUS
The House of the Telephus Relief is a three-storey palace that was preserved in a layer of sand after Mount Vesuvius destroyed the Roman town of Herculaneum in AD79.
It was discovered eight years ago by an Italian archaeologist from the Herculaneum Conservation Project (HCP).
Archaeologists discovered long beams – each up to seven metres long - which they pieced together to reconstruct the roof.
They were able to recreate the pattern of the panels from delicate traces of reds, blues, yellows and greens that were still on the wood.
Experts believe it is the only preserved Roman timber roof and described the find as ‘unique’.
The palace, known as the House of Telephus, was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79, destroying the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The huge three-story building was thought to have dozen of rooms and would have been 'top-level Roman real estate', Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, the director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project (HCP), told the Guardian.
'It is not unheard of for bits of roofs from the classical world to survive,' he added.
'But it is incredibly rare.'
Mount Vesuvius, on the west coast of Italy, is the only active volcano in continental Europe and is thought to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.
When it erupted in AD79, tides of burning-hot debris engulfed the seaside mansion.
But by a fluke of geology, the timber of the building was protected for thousands of years between layers of sand.
The timbers of the roof, which were built into an inverted V-shape, were cut so precisely that no nails were required to hold them in place
This enabled researchers to re-imagine what the elaborate building would have looked like.
'It's the first-ever full reconstruction of the timberwork of a Roman roof,' said Professor Wallace-Hadrill.
The timbers of the roof, which were built into an inverted V-shape, were cut so precisely that no nails were required to hold them in place.
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