Our understanding of the ancient Greeks and Romans is based on texts. Although we have other sources of information about the classical world, it is through texts – literary works originally written on papyrus scrolls — that we have received the ideas on which western civilization was founded.
Since 99% of these texts were lost during the Middle Ages, almost everything we know about Greek and Roman literature is based on the tiny selection of ancient works preserved by medieval copyists.
The Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum could change that.
The Villa of the Papyri
Herculaneum was a Roman town on the Bay of Naples that was buried, along with the neighboring city of Pompeii, by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. After its accidental rediscovery in 1709, Herculaneum was explored by teams of workmen who drove tunnels through the rock-hard volcanic debris blanketing the ruins.