Europa on the Bull in the House of Jason in Pompeii

Europe on the Bull, 20-25 AD, Fresco Painting,125×95 cm, from Pompeii, Room ‘f’ in the House of Jason, today, in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy https://ancientrome.ru/art/artworken/img.htm?id=2092

In 1878 archaeologists discovered a most wonderful fresco of the Myth of Europa on the Bull in the House of Jason in Pompeii! Let’s explore the ‘where’, ‘which’, ‘how’, and ‘what’ of this amazing fresco by posing some questions!

What is the Myth of Europa and Zeus? In the myth of the Abduction of Europa, Zeus, the king of the gods, is captivated by the beauty of Europa, a Phoenician princess and daughter of King Agenor. Seized by desire, Zeus transforms into a magnificent bull and approaches Europa with an air of gentleness. Europa, charmed by the bull’s allure, climbs onto its back, only for Zeus to swiftly take off, and carry her across the sea to the island of Crete. Upon reaching Crete, Zeus discloses his identity, and Europa becomes his queen. This myth of love and adventure, steeped in symbolism and divine intrigue, has left a lasting legacy, not only in the naming of the continent of Europe but also in its enduring influence on art, literature, and the understanding of ancient cultural values.

How does Ovis describe the Myth of the Abduction described in his Metamorphoses? So the father and ruler of the gods, who is armed with the three-forked lightning in his right hand, whose nod shakes the world, setting aside his royal sceptre, took on the shape of a bull, lowed among the other cattle, and, beautiful to look at, wandered in the tender grass.  /   In colour he was white as the snow that rough feet have not trampled, and the rain-filled south wind has not melted. The muscles rounded out his neck, the dewlaps hung down in front, the horns were twisted, but one might argue they were made by hand, purer and brighter than pearl. His forehead was not fearful, his eyes were not formidable, and his expression was peaceful. Agenor’s daughter marvelled at how beautiful he was and how unthreatening. But though he seemed so gentle she was afraid at first to touch him. Soon she drew close and held flowers out to his glistening mouth. The lover was joyful and while he waited for his hoped-for pleasure he kissed her hands. He could scarcely separate then from now. At one moment he frolics and runs riot in the grass, at another he lies down, white as snow on the yellow sands. When her fear has gradually lessened he offers his chest now for virgin hands to pat and now his horns to twine with fresh wreaths of flowers. The royal virgin even dares to sit on the bull’s back, not realising whom she presses on, while the god, first from dry land and then from the shoreline, gradually slips his deceitful hooves into the waves. Then he goes further out and carries his prize over the mid-surface of the sea. She is terrified and looks back at the abandoned shore she has been stolen from and her right hand grips a horn, the other his back, her clothes fluttering, winding, behind her in the breeze. This is how Ovid describes in Bk II:833-875 Zeus’s abduction of Europa. https://ovid.lib.virginia.edu/trans/Metamorph2.htm#476707521

House of Jason in Pompeii, Ground Plan, Photo of the entrance hall ‘a’ of Jason’s House looking towards the Atrium ‘b’, central living room and Photo of the internal garden/Atrium ‘b’, looking west towards room ‘f’, where three amazing fresco panels, including the Abduction of Europa, were discovered https://ermakvagus.com/Europe/Italy/Pompeii/jason.html and https://www.pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R9/9%2005%2018%20p1.htm    and https://www.pompeiiinpictures.com/pompeiiinpictures/R9/9%2005%2018%20p9.htm

Where did archaeologists discover the Roman fresco of Europa’s Abduction? The fresco was discovered in the House of Jason, in 1878, in Pompeii, in Region IX, Insula 5, Entrance 18. Today, the building is in a fairly sad dilapidated condition due to weather erosion. It is a relatively small residence compared to other Pompeiian Houses, but rich in exceptional frescoes which, taken to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, are currently exhibited.

Which famous fresco panels, exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, were discovered in the House of Jason? In Room ‘d’, one of the House’s cubicula (bedrooms), archaeologists discovered three large mythological scenes (they have long been removed to the National Museum in Naples) depicting Paris waiting for Aphrodite, Medea, and Phaedra. Two more frescoes, Phoenix and Polyxena, and Jason and Pelias were discovered in the triclinium marked as ‘e’. Finally, Room ‘f’ provides us with three more fresco panels presenting the Abduction of Europa, Pan and the Nymphs, and Hercules, Deianira, and Nessus. https://ermakvagus.com/Europe/Italy/Pompeii/jason.html

What do we know about the discovery of the Pompeiian fresco of the Abduction of Europa? The House of Jason was originally discovered in 1878 in Pompeii, Italy. On the western side of the House, in a small Room, marked ‘f’ in the Plan, archaeologists discovered three frescoes, exhibited today in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, the Abduction of Europa being one of them.

Europe on the Bull (detail), 20-25 AD, Fresco Painting,125×95 cm, from Pompeii, Room ‘f’ in the House of Jason, today, in the National Archaeological Museum, Naples, Italy https://www.sciencesource.com/1719661-europa-fresco-pompeii.html

How can the Abduction fresco be described? The Abduction fresco captures the poignant opening of the famous Myth of Europa, where the Phoenician king Agenor’s young daughter finds herself captivated by the bull’s gentle demeanor and striking beauty. Overwhelmed by the creature’s tranquil presence, her initial fear gradually dissipates, encouraging her to daringly mount its back. Positioned on the right side of the fresco are three of Europa’s companions, with one leaning forward to tenderly caress the bull’s face. The entire composition unfolds against a backdrop of breathtaking ‘Hellenistic’ scenery, characterized by intricate rock formations, architectural motifs such as the central column, and lush greenery.

For a PowerPoint of all frescoes discovered in the House of Jason and exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, please… Check HERE!

House of the Doves in Pompeii

Mosaic Emblema with Doves on a Water Basin, 1st century BC, Room ‘n’ House of Doves in Pompeii (Region VIII, 2-34), now in Naples Archaeological Museum, Italy https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Doves_drinking_at_a_golden_basin,_mosaic_(from_Pompeii)#/media/File:Doves_at_a_Basin,_Mosaic.jpg

The dove, revered across cultures and religions, stands as a powerful symbol of Peace, Purity, and Hope. With its gentle demeanor and graceful flight, the dove has been a timeless emblem of tranquility and reconciliation. In various ancient mythologies, the dove has been linked to goddesses of love and fertility, like Inanna/Ishtar in Mesopotamia, or Aphrodite in Greece, adding a dimension of divine love to its symbolism. The dove’s appearance in the biblical story of Noah’s Ark further solidified its association with peace and new beginnings, as it returned to Noah carrying an olive branch, signaling the end of the flood. In Christianity, it gained prominence as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, often depicted during significant moments like the baptism of Jesus. Beyond religious contexts, the dove has become a universal icon for peace movements and humanitarian causes, transcending borders and languages to convey a shared aspiration for harmony in the world. As we usher in the New Year, let the beautiful mosaic of Doves in the House of the Doves in Pompeii serve as a heartfelt message for peace and prosperity in the coming year! May the spirit of these doves inspire moments of serenity and abundance in your life as we embark on this fresh journey together.

The House of the Doves (Casa delle Colombe or Casa di V. Popidius) is a captivating ancient Roman residence located in the archaeological site of Pompeii. Situated in the southwestern part of the city (Regio VIII, 2-34), this well-preserved house offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Pompeian elite during the first century AD. The house derives its name from a stunning mosaic that adorns one of its rooms (Room ‘n’ in Plan), featuring six Doves in various poses, around a water basin. Its layout is typical of Roman homes, with a central atrium surrounded by rooms adorned with frescoes, mosaics, and other ornate decorations. The architectural and artistic elements found within the house provide valuable insights into the aesthetics and daily life of Pompeii’s ancient inhabitants, making it a fascinating destination for archaeologists, historians, and visitors alike.

The intricate Mosaic Emblema featuring three doves perched on the rim of a golden water basin supported by lion’s feet, with a fourth dove gracefully descending and two more resting on the shelf below, is just one among the numerous exquisite details that distinguish this particular residence. Unearthed during the March 1885 excavation season in Room ‘n,’ an oecus or triclinium located in the southeast corner of the house’s atrium, the impressive mosaic is currently on display at the Naples Archaeological Museum. https://mann-napoli.it/en/mosaici-2/

The room’s floor, hardly preserved today, was made of a white mosaic with small tesserae without any border. In the center, the Emblema with the Doves is believed to derive from a model by the famed mosaicist Sosus of Pergamon (εκ Περγάμου ψηφιδογράφος Σώσος), an artist discussed and much admired by Pliny the Elder.

Sosus of Pergamon, a renowned Hellenistic mosaicist, left an indelible mark on the ancient world with his extraordinary mosaic artworks. Pliny describes Hellenistic mosaic making and Sosus’s accomplishments as …Paved floors originated among the Greeks and were skilfully embellished with a kind of paintwork until this was superseded by mosaics. In this latter field the most famous exponent was Sosus, who at Pergamum created a greatly admired mosaic of a Dove… in the act of drinking, and throwing the shadow of its head upon the water; while other birds are to be seen sunning and pluming themselves, on the margin of a drinking-bowl. https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0137%3Abook%3D36%3Achapter%3D60

While none of Sosus’s original works have withstood the test of time, his renown persists through the admiration of later artists and historians. His impact on the art of mosaic has created a lasting legacy, inspiring subsequent generations and enriching the intricate tapestry of Hellenistic artistic achievement. The question arises: is the Pompeiian Mosaic of Doves a reproduction of Sosus’s renowned Hellenistic mosaic? An affirmative response is quite likely.

Wishing you a joyous and fulfilling New Year filled with Harmony and Happiness!

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16)… https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2010%3A16&version=NIV

For a Student Activity, inspired by the beautiful mosaic of Doves in the House of the Doves in Pompeii, please… Check HERE!

A reference to the legendary Hellenistic Mosaicist Sosus (εκ Περγάμου ψηφιδογράφος Σώσος), can be accessed in a former Teacher Curator BLOG POST titled Heraklitos and the Asarotos Oikos Mosaic… https://www.teachercurator.com/art/heraklitos-and-the-asarotos-oikos-mosaic/

House of the Faun

The Latin inscription HAVE, translated as Welcome in English, salutes visitors to the largest and most luxurious residence in Pompeii, The House of the Faun, 2nd century BC to 79 AD, Pompeii, Italy
http://pompeiisites.org/en/archaeological-site/house-of-the-faun /

The House of the Faun is the grandest and most lavishly decorated private residence in ancient Pompeii. Originally serving as the home of a privileged family, this remarkable house, constructed in the latter part of the second century BC, circa 180 BC to be specific, occupied an entire city block and boasted an expansive interior spanning approximately 3,000 square meters. Home to many spectacular pieces of art, the House of the Faun stands out for its opulent floor mosaics, some of which remain in their original positions, while others are exhibited at the National Museum of Naples.

House of the Faun, the large Tuscan Atrium of the House of the Faun in Pompeii with a central impluvium (rainwater basin) and the bronze statue of the Dancing Faun, a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original bronze statue, 0.64 cm, National Museum of Naples, Italy https://www.worldhistory.org/image/11263/the-atrium-of-the-house-of-the-faun-in-pompeii/

The title, House of the Faun, derived from an original bronze figurine portraying a dancing Faun situated at the heart of a white limestone Impluvium (Plan No. 27), a basin for collecting water. Fauns, ethereal beings associated with untamed forests, were frequently linked by Romans to Pan and Greek satyrs, who were followers of Dionysus, the Greek deity associated with wine and agriculture. The original bronze statuette of the Dancing Faun is in the National Museum of Naples, thus the statue seen in the house’s ruins today is a copy.

The elaborate and sophisticated architectural plan of the House of the Faun reflects the wealth and social status of its occupants and follows the standard Roman architectural style of a Domus (private family house) but on an exceptionally grand scale. The House had, for example, two main Entrances, (Plan No 2bold and No 5bold). The principal Entrance (Plan No. 2bold) led to the Tuscan Atrium (Plan No. 27), while a secondary Entrance (Plan No. 5bold) led directly to the Tetrastyle Atrium (Plan No. 7)  and the service areas. The Tuscan Atrium, with a large open hall, the heart of the house, had the impluvium in the center, a basin that collected rainwater, with a small bronze statue of a Dancing Faun, giving the house its name.

Around the Tuscan Atrium were various rooms including cubicula (bedrooms), a tablinum (office or study), and triclinia (dining rooms). A special room, the Exedra (Plan No. 37), was off the smaller Peristyle (Plan No. 36) and contained the famous Alexander Mosaic.

Mosaic of Alexander and Darius, 2nd century BC, Naples Archaeological Museum, Italy https://mann-napoli.it/en/mosaici-2/#gallery-4

The house had two Peristyles (Plan No. 36 and No. 39) or colonnaded courtyards. The larger one (Plan No. 39), was essentially a garden surrounded by a colonnade. The second smaller Peristyle (Plan No. 36) was more private and was linked to the private living areas. Separate service quarters were attached to the secondary entrance and the Tetrastyle Atrium (Plan No. 5bold and No. 7). These included the kitchen, a small bathing complex, slave quarters, and storerooms. On the exterior, the house had tabernae or shops (Plan No. 1, No 2, No 3, and No 4). These were leased out to generate additional income.

The House of the Faun represents a clear example of how the Romans valued both private and social aspects of life, and how they incorporated this into their architecture.

This residence is most famous for its intricate and beautifully preserved mosaics, which not only demonstrate the wealth and status of its inhabitants but also provide an insight into the aesthetic tastes of the Roman elite during this period. The mosaics serve as invaluable examples of the ancient Roman mosaic tradition, each one unique in design and execution.

The most famous mosaic found in the House of the Faun is the Alexander Mosaic, which covered the floor of the Exedra (Plan No. 37). The mosaic, dated during the 2nd century BC, is believed to depict the Battle of Issus (333 BC) between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The mosaic is lauded for its attention to detail, dramatic energy, and sophisticated use of perspective, showcasing a high degree of artistic skill.

The mosaic I find particularly touching presents one word only. It was placed in front of the main entrance to the House (Plan No. 2bold), reading HAVE, a Latin word meaning ‘Greetings’ or ‘Welcome’. Isn’t it a particularly welcoming touch to the grandeur of this spectacular Pompeiian house?

The PowerPoint I prepared for my new BLOG POST the House of the Faun has two Parts. The first consists of photos of the House itself. The second part of the PowerPoint presents photos of its famous Mosaics. For the PowerPoint, please… Check HERE!

This Video dedicated to the House of Faun is worth seeing… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X4i0psJ2p0

Astragaloi Players

Alexander of Athens, 1st cent BC-1st cent AD
Astragaloi players from Herculaneum, 1st cent BC-1st cent AD, Marble and Pigment, 47.6×50.5 cm, National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Italy https://mann-napoli.it/affreschi/#gallery-8

Niobe ((P. Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses)… So many things / increased her pride: She loved to boast / her husband’s skill, their noble family, / the rising grandeur of their kingdom. Such / felicities were great delights to her; / but nothing could exceed the haughty way / she boasted of her children: and, in truth, / Niobe might have been adjudged on earth, / the happiest mother of mankind, if pride / had not destroyed her wit… and Leto’s anger fell hard on her… Childless— she crouched beside her slaughtered sons, / her lifeless daughters, and her husband’s corpse. / The breeze not even moved her fallen hair, / a chill of marble spread upon her flesh, / beneath her pale, set brows, her eyes moved not, / her bitter tongue turned stiff in her hard jaws, / her lovely veins congealed, and her stiff neck / and rigid hands could neither bend nor move.— / her limbs and body, all were changed to stone… The Astragaloi Players, the painted marble Pinax from Herculaneum, takes the viewer to moments of contentment when Leto and Niobe certainly they loved each other like true friend (Sappho Fragment 142)… before Niobe’s Ύβρις (transgression against a god) and Leto’s painful Wrath!  https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0028%3Abook%3D6 and https://digitalsappho.org/fragments/fr118-168/

The famous painting of the Astragaloi Players was discovered in the House of Neptune and Amphitrite, in Herculaneum, on Cardo IV, in May 1746. Not one of the largest houses in ancient Herculaneum, yet one of the most famous, and visited, as it boasts three masterpieces.

The Villa’s Garden Court, with a summer triclinium, veneered with marble, on the far end wall, the Nymphaeum, and the famous Neptune and Amphitrite mosaic.

First, the mosaic decorating the Nymphaeum, located in the Inner Garden Court of the house. Adorned with geometric and floral motifs and hunting scenes with dogs and deer composed of glass paste tesserae, shells, and designs of mother of pearl, the Nymphaeum mosaic is brightly colorful and elegant. Second, in the center of the east wall, the mosaic after which the house is named shows Neptune and Amphitrite surrounded by an exquisite frame of decorative motifs. Third, the Marble Pinax of the Astragaloi Players is detached and exhibited today in Naples Archaeological Museum.

The depicted scene in the marble Pinax, titled Astragaloi Players, presents the act immediately preceding the massacre of the Niobids. The myth, also told by Ovid (Metamorphoses, VI), narrates that Niobe, wife of Amphion, king of Thebes, and mother of many children, dared to declare herself even superior to the goddess Leto, mother of only two children, Apollo, and Artemis. Leto, angered by Niobe and her outrageous presumption, ordered the killing of the queen’s seven sons by Apollo and the killing of her seven daughters with arrows shot by Artemis. https://mann-napoli.it/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/10.-Giocatrici-di-astragali.pdf

Astragaloi players from Herculaneum, Drawing of the painting on marble, in Antichità di Ercolano: Tomo Primo: Le Pitture 1, 1757, 1,5
https://herculaneum.uk/Ins%205/Herculaneum%205%2007.htm

The inscriptions in capital Greek characters, placed next to each figure depicted in the Pinax, identify the members of the story by name. In the background, three women are identified as Leto (left), Niobe (middle), and Phoebe (right). In the foreground, kneeling and involved in a game of Astragaloi, the artist of the composition placed two of Niobe’s daughters, Aglaia (left) and Ilaria (right). Another inscription, placed in the upper left corner, introduces us to the artist, a man called Alexander from Athens (ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ ΑθΗΝΑΙΟΣ ΕΓΡΑΦΕΝ).  

Antonio Coppa of the Naples Archaeological Museum believes that this marble painting is most likely a Neo-Attic remake of an original painting of the late 5th century BC, attributable to the famous Zeuxis. The archaeologist also believes that the presence of names identifying each figure depicted in the composition fits into the archaizing fashion of the Augustan age, allowing to date the work between the end of the 1st century BC and the beginning of the 1st century AD. https://mann-napoli.it/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/10.-Giocatrici-di-astragali.pdf

The painting of the Astragaloi Players was immediately defined as “monochrome”, believing it to be an example of those paintings in which the only color for their realization was the cinnabar. However, recent investigations into the picture pigment have highlighted the use of multiple colors: pink and yellow for the clothes, red for the sandals, and black for the hair; moreover, the different gradations of color gave volume to the figures, therefore the current monochrome is only the result of the action of time. https://mann-napoli.it/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/10.-Giocatrici-di-astragali.pdf

What a magnificent discovery!

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

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 the 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 in Herculaneum, 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 inspired by the House of the Deer in Herculaneum, 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!