HERCULANEUM
Destruction and Re-discovery
Open Excavations (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16)
Suburban District
The Suburban District lies outside the town walls to the south of Insula Orientalis I. It is accessed via the Marina Gate at the southern end of Cardo V (also from a narrow ramp at the southern end of Cardo IV).  It is the ancient waterfront area and includes the Suburban Thermae and a large sacred area of which little remains except for a marble altar.
Suburban Thermae
 
The Suburban Thermae (baths) seem to have been a gift to the town by Proconsul Nonius Balbus.  His statue and a memorial altar once stood in the building, which also gave access to the house thought to be the Balbus home.
The Suburban Thermae held up remarkably well against the eruption.  The fact that the shoreline was pushed nearly half a mile out to sea shows that the volcanic avalanche had not lost any of its strength when it reached the baths.  The building owes its survival to its construction - walls of brick-faced concrete with vaults supporting to roof.  Debris pouring in through a skylight and filling the interior may also have helped by offsetting the pressure from outside.
The main entrance to the baths consists of a portal with columns supporting a gable.  The vestibule, pictured above and opposite, has a pierced vault supported by four plain columns topped by round arches.  As can be seen in the photographs, a marble bust of Apollo stands on a pilaster which used to emit a stream of water into the basin below.
The vestibule gives access to all areas of the baths. Unlike the Central Thermae, these baths were not segregated, and were probably used alternately by both sexes.  A single room, most of which is occupied by a pool, served as a combined apodyterium and frigidarium
 
Between this room and the
tepidarium was a waiting area decorated with stuccoes and marbles with marble benches along the walls. 
 
The
tepidarium, with its large pool, adjoins a rather small laconicum.  The caldarium has a pool that was used for hot swims, and a basin that provided cold water.  Beyond the caldarium is the boiler room which served the whole complex.
 
Shoreline
 
On the ancient beach, twelve stone boathouses contain dozens of skeletons, a poignant testimony to the final attempts of the inhabitants to escape from the eruption. 
 
Among the artifacts found were surgical instruments and women's jewelry.  The skeleton of a woman in the photograph opposite still wears two rings on her left hand.

The inhabitants had probably taken shelter in the boathouses to wait out the worst of the eruption.  Close by, escape boats were found that the fleeing inhabitants had not been able to use.
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