I’ve seen this linked in several places recently, but it’s such a great story I wanted to link it here too.
The villa probably belonged to Lucius Calpurnius Piso, father-in-law of Julius Caesar and one of the rulers of the Roman republic. In AD79, a century after his death, it was buried under 30 metres of volcanic debris by the same Vesuvius eruption that wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum.
In 1738, it was rediscovered and the excavators removed statues and objets d’art. In the process, they threw away many lumps of what they took to be coal or charcoal. It was not until 1752 when they discovered the villa’s library – neatly lined with 1800 rolls of papyrus – that they realised the discarded material had been books.
It remains the only intact library to have survived from the ancient world …