The Villa of the Papyri (Italian: Villa dei Papiri, also known as Villa dei Pisoni) was an ancient Roman villa in Herculaneum, in what is now Ercolano, southern Italy. It is named after its unique library of papyri (or scrolls), discovered in 1750.
The Villa was considered to be one of the most luxurious houses in all of Herculaneum and in the Roman world. Its luxury is shown by its exquisite architecture and by the very large number of outstanding works of art discovered, including frescoes, bronzes and marble sculpture which constitute the largest collection of Greek and Roman sculptures ever discovered in a single context.
It was situated on the ancient coastline below the volcano Vesuvius with nothing to obstruct the view of the sea. It was perhaps owned by Julius Caesar‘s father-in-law, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus. Barker 1908 suggested Philodemus was owner of the Villa of the Papyri Library.
In AD 79, the eruption of Vesuvius covered all of Herculaneum with up to 30 metres (98 ft) of volcanic material from pyroclastic flows. Herculaneum was first excavated in the years between 1750 and 1765 by Karl Weber by means of tunnels. The villa’s name derives from the discovery of its library, the only surviving library from the Graeco-Roman world that exists in its entirety. It contained over 1,800 papyrus scrolls, now carbonised by the heat of the eruption, the “Herculaneum papyri“.
Most of the villa is still underground, but parts have been cleared of volcanic deposits. Many of the finds are displayed in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. The Getty Villa is a reproduction of the Villa of the Papyri.