House of the Deer in Herculaneum

Still Life with Peaches and Water Jar, detail of a Fourth Style wall painting from the House of the Deer in Herculaneum, c. 62-69 C.E., fresco, 35.56 x 34.29 cm, Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/roman/wall-painting/a/still-life-with-peaches

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, a sustainable world is one where everyone counts. Governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society and individuals need to work together in solidarity to prioritize the right of all people to food, nutrition, peace and equality. Indeed, every one of us, including youth, can work towards an inclusive and sustainable future, showing greater empathy and kindness in our actions. On World Food Day, October 16, we need to build a sustainable world where everyone, everywhere has regular access to enough nutritious food. I would like to commemorate this important day by presenting a Still Life painting from the House of Deer in Herculaneum. https://www.fao.org/world-food-day/en

Panoramic View of the House of the Deer in Herculaneum, Italy https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/herculaneum-1/insula-iv/house-of-the-deer

The House of the Deer, built during the reign of Emperor Claudius, is one of the most opulent houses in ancient Herculaneum. Its name comes from a set of statues depicting deer attacked by hounds. The marble sculptural decoration of the Villa, discovered in 1930, was part of its landscaped garden. Apart from the two statues of deer attacked by hounds, archaeologists discovered the statue of a Satyr carrying a Wineskin on his back, and a Drunken Hercules. https://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/giardinoantico/egar.asp?c=24027&k=24013&rif=24021            

Discovered in 1930, in the House of the Deer, this loaf of sourdough bread was baked on the morning of the 24th of August, 79 CE. It carries the stamp of Celer, a former slave of Quintus Granius Verus. https://bitesizedancienthistory1.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/the-bread-loaf-from-herculaneum/

Interestingly, we know the name of the owner of this house. This was done after the discovery of a bread cake with the seal of a certain Seler, a former slave of Granius Veria. Shortly before the death of Herculaneum, Celer was released by his master with all the rights of a free citizen. https://ermakvagus.com/Europe/Italy/herculaneum/deer_house_herculaneum.html

House of the Deer in Herculaneum Plan
Garden area (32), looking north to the central doorway into Cryptoporticus (28)
Garden area (32), detail of the mosaic decoration of the Great Portal.
Photo courtesy of Robert Hanson
Statue of a deer attacked by four hounds, 1st century AD, white Luna marble. The original statues are exhibited in Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei, in Italy https://herculaneum.uk/Ins%204/Herculaneum%204%2021%20p9.htm and https://twitter.com/planetpompeii/status/1113189803204411399 and https://herculaneum.uk/Ins%204/Herculaneum%204%2021%20plan.htm

The House of the Deer, one of the most luxurious waterfront dwellings so far discovered in Herculaneum, has an interesting layout. It focuses on the axis that runs from the triclinium (5) through the peristyle/garden area (32), and the tablinum (15) to the gazebo (18) set in the center of the panoramic terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples to the south. https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/herculaneum-1/insula-iv/house-of-the-deer

An important part of the House of the Deer was the Cryptoporticus (28-31), a corridor that enclosed the central peristyle/garden (32) area, and opened onto the atrium (24), the triclinium (5), and the tablinum (15). The Cryptoporticus was decorated in the 4th Pompeian Style, featuring more than sixty individual panels. These panels (partly removed in the 18th century) represent scenes with tiny cupids, still-lifes, and various architectural landscapes. https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/herculaneum-1/insula-iv/house-of-the-deer

Still Life with Peaches and Water Jar (left), Still Life with a Silver Tray with Prunes, Dried figs, Dates, and Glass of Wine (center), and Still Life with Branch of Peaches (right)
Still Life with Hen (left), Still Life with Two Cuttlefish, a Silver Jug, Bird, Shells, Snails, and Lobster (center), and Still-life with a Hare and Grapes (right)
Still-Life with Chicken and Hare (left), Still Life with Partridge, Pomegranate, and Apple (second from left), Still Life with Thrushes and Mushrooms (third from left), Still-Life with Partridges and Eels (far right)
Fourth Style wall paintings from the House of Deer in Herculaneum, Italy, c. 62-69 C.E., fresco, 35.56 x 34.29 cm, Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy
https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/roman/wall-painting/a/still-life-with-peaches

My favorite panel presents Peaches and a transparent glass Water Jar. It was meant to be seen as a group of three Still Life paintings.  According to Dr. Lea Cline, all ten Still Life panels discovered in the Villa belong to a category of still life paintings known as xenia, that is as hospitality gifts. It is interesting to know that the ancient Greek and Roman hosts were expected to gift their guests with xenia, tokens of their hospitality, instead of receiving gifts as the tradition is today. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/roman/wall-painting/a/still-life-with-peaches

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Villa Pisanella in Boscoreale

Villa Pisanella, 40-20 BC, Fragment of a Fresco wall decoration from the upper floor of the Villa, featuring a Woman on a black background presenting fruits, Boscoreale Antiquarium, Italy https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Women_villa_della_Pisanella_Pompeii_Museum_Boscoreale.jpg

Boscoreale, write the Metropolitan Museum experts, an area about a mile north of Pompeii, was notable in antiquity for having numerous aristocratic country villas. This tradition endured into the time of the Bourbon kings, as is attested by the region’s name, the “Royal Forest,” which implies that Boscoreale was a hunting preserve. Some of the most important Roman “treasures” surviving from antiquity come from Roman Villas at Boscoreale built shortly after the middle of the first century BC. Villa Pisanella in Boscoreale was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, but in 1868 excavations by Modestino Pulzella brought it back to a “second” life. During the 1895 excavation period, archaeologists came across a large quantity of gold coins, a few pieces of jewellery and an exceptional collection of silverware afterwards presented to the Louvre by Count Edmond de Rothschild. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/cubi/hd_cubi.htm and https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/boscoreale/villa-pisanella

Villa Pisanella (old photo), looking North across Area A, the courtyard/peristyle and cella vinaria.
https://www.pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/VF/Villa_013%20Boscoreale%20Villa%20della%20Pisanella%20p1.htm

Villa Pisanella has been the subject of excavations, or rather of explorations, which date back to the last century, and were essentially aimed at the recovery of “treasures,” now dispersed in various museums, and at the preparation of building archaeological plans. During the 1894 and 1903 seasons, the famous Boscoreale Treasure of gold coins, jewellery, and silver tableware was unearthed, along with many bronze furnishings, household utensils, and parts of the Villa’s unpretentious fresco decoration in the Fourth Pompeian Style. All finds are now dispersed among the Louvre, where the gold and silver artefacts are housed, Berlin, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the Boscoreale Antiquarium in Italy. On completion of the 1894-1903 “excavations,” the villa was reburied. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0006:entry=boscoreale

Plan and Model of the reconstruction of the Villa “alla Pisanella” before the volcanic eruption of 79 AD https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/boscoreale/villa-pisanella

The Villa’s archaeological ground plan shows a modest “Villa Rustica.” It was the headquarters of a farming estate producing olive oil, grain, and enough wine to have two presses and 84 dolia (round fermentation vessels) in its court for fermentation. The owners lived in an apartment arranged in the Villa’s upper story. On the ground floor, archaeologists discovered a single big triclinium, a bath complex, a large kitchen, and the necessary rooms/areas for the management of the farm. http://www.deprisco.it/villapisanella/pisanella.htm

The most important Rooms/Areas in Villa Pisanella are: 1. The letter marks the Entrance of the Villa near the middle of the southwest side as shown in the plan. 2. The letter b marks the Inner Court, wide enough for carts and wagons. 3. Room d is the Villa’s large Kitchen with an open hearth almost in the center of the room, on which the remains of a fire were found, and Room k is the Bakery with a single mill and an oven. 4. Rooms e, f, and g indicate the Bath House of Villa Pisanella beautifully adorned with black and white, simple but elegant, floor mosaics. In the narrow area between Room g and Room i, opening to the Kitchen, archaeologists discovered the Villa’s Boiler Room with a lead-heated water reservoir standing on a masonry foundation. 5. Room i, is the Villa’s main Tool Room. 6. Room J marks the Villa’s only ground-floor Triclinium in which the remains of couches with luxurious bronze trimmings were discovered. 7. The long Room l on the northeast side of the court was the Torcularium where grapes were pressed to produce wine. At each end was a large press with a raised floor. 8. Room r and Room s were dedicated to the making of olive oil containing a small oil press in Room r and an olive crusher in Room s. 9. Area m is the Cella Vinaria, the area where 84 Dolia (round fermentation vessels) were discovered sunk in the ground. Local wine was stored in the Villa’s Dolia to ferment. According to Pliny’s ‘Natural History’ in Campania the best wine underwent fermentation in the open air, exposed to sun, wind, and rain.10. Area o is the Threshing Floor of Villa Pisanella. 11. Rooms marked c, are the Villa’s Cubicula (bedrooms). https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/boscoreale/villa-pisanella

In 1895, while excavating Room l, the Villa’s Torcularium for wine, archaeologists discovered a Hoard consisting of a large quantity of aurei coins (aureus is a Roman gold coin valued at 25 pure silver denarii), a few pieces of valuable jewelry, and an exceptional collection of silverware. After the Hoard’s amazing discovery, Vincenzo de Prisco, the owner of the property where Villa Pisanella was discovered, travelled to Paris where he sold the Boscoreale Treasure, as the Villa’s Hoard was named, to Museums and wealthy collectors. Part of the treasure, 109 pieces of silverware and jewelry, was bought by Baron Rothschild, who donated it to the Louvre Museum. A POST dedicated to the Boscoreale Treasure will be the subject on another BLOG presentation.

For a PowerPoint on Villa Pisanella, please… Check HERE!