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House of Aristides

Description of the House (Ins II, 1)

The first building on the left after reaching Cardo III is the House of Aristides. The house derives its name from a statue found in the building (pictured lower right). Unfortunately the statue was wrongly identified as that of Aristides, a Greek politician, whereas it was, in fact, a bust of Aeschines, the Greek statesman and one of the ten Attic Orators. (The Attic Orators were considered the greatest orators of the classical era (5th – 4th century BC)). The name of the house, however, remains unchanged.
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The entrance (a) to the building opens off the west side of Cardo III directly onto a small atrium (b) complete with central impluvium (pictured below) but the remainder of the house is not particularly well preserved.
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The Bourbons demolished the wall (c) on the north side of the atrium between the House of Aristides and the House of Argus (pictured right, viewed from the atrium), so it is also possible to enter the building by way of the north wall of the atrium from the peristyle of the House of Argus and vice versa.

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The walls of the atrium are devoid of plasterwork. The atrium has three doorways on its south side (pictured above) which give access to the southern part of the house. On the west side of the atrium a single doorway leads to a large open room.
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The use of the rooms is not clear because of the damage caused by the tunnels dug during the Bourbon period and the arbitrary restoration work carried out at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
(The room (d) immediately south of the atrium is pictured opposite). Like its neighbour, the House of Argus, the main entrance to the property may have been off Cardo II.

The property had a lower floor, which was probably used for storage. This level had been built by extending the edge of the promontory toward the sea by means of a monumental wall in opus reticulatum (pictured opposite).

Investigation of the gravel levels at the foot of the cliff beneath the House of Aristides reveals that at least part of the beach at the time of the eruption had been used as a dumping ground for waste building material. Brick and other spoils were found in this layer together with an accumulation of domestic painted plaster, probably as a result of renovations carried out after the earthquakes that preceded the eruption of AD79.




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