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House of the Inn

Description of the House (Ins III, 1-2 and 18-19)

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The property is in a poor state of repair not only due to the effects of the eruption, but also to the exploratory tunnels and passageways dug in the course of early excavations. There  is virtually a complete loss of decoration outwith the area of the bath suite.
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The rooms (l) off door No. 18 were originally a separate unit of approximately 6 rooms but were at some time linked to the north side of the peristyle. Likewise shop (m) was possibly linked to the house. It would appear that the house was remodelled sometime after the earthquake of AD62 to form a commercial establishment comprising both shops and workshops.
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The main entrance (a) opens off the west side of Cardo IV, onto a plain atrium (b) (pictured upper right), off which rooms radiate left and right. The atrium here is a simple lobby rather than the expected prestigious foyer found elsewhere.
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The portico itself was supported by pilasters  of opus vittatum mixtum, alternating rows of brick and tufa blocks, as shown in the photo upper right. The portico had white mosaic paving with black insets and a black border. Opening off the south east corner of the peristyle is a large exedra (h) which is paved  in white mosaic. The entrance to the room is ornamented with a broad black and white decorative threshold (pictured right).

The three large rooms (e, f and g) off the south side of the peristyle (pictured lower right) all had mosaic flooring of which some fragments still remain.
A flight of stairs (o) off the south east corner of the peristyle led down to the lower levels of terracing.
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To the south of the peristyle is a quadriporticus terrace (n) which overlooks the Bay of Naples. It is built over a vaulted substructure (pictured below) which contained several small rooms and two larger rooms with panoramic views to the south.
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The entrance opens onto the apodyterium (i) (pictured right). The apodyterium is decorated in the late second style with large green panels with internal decorative borders set on a pale pink background. The panels are ornamented with floating figures and topped by a light blue painted cornice.
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The dark red panels are topped with a light green/blue painted cornice (pictured lower right). Surmounting the cornice are a series of decorative panels framed in dark red. The room is lit by a large rectangular window in its south wall. An arched doorway in the south west corner opens onto the caldarium (k).
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The House of the Inn, which is set in a magnificent waterfront location, occupies the complete southern end of Insula III. Built during the Augustan period (27 BC - 14 AD), the house was first excavated in 1852.

Because of its large size and the presence of its own private baths, it was originally considered to be an inn, but it is now believed to be a private house, albeit a rather sumptuous one.

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The west side of the atrium leads onto a large peristyle (c) with a central sunken garden (d), pictured above and left, where the carbonised trunk of a pear tree was discovered during recent restoration work. As a living reminder of its former use, the garden has now been planted as a pear orchard.
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The rooms are reached by a winding passageway which twists and turns its way down to the lower level. The passageway is vaulted and lit by occasional rectangular windows (pictured below). The walls retain some areas of plasterwork with traces of fresco decoration.
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The house's private baths are accessed by way of a narrow doorway in the north east corner of the atrium (pictured left). These baths are the only private thermae so far discovered  in Herculaneum and are richly decorated in the late second style with black and white mosaic flooring.
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In the north west corner of the apodyterium is a narrow arched doorway (pictured opposite) while leads to the tepidarium (j). The tepidarium (pictured below) is decorated with dark red panels with internal decorative borders separated by broad bands decorated with a floral motif in green and blue.
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The caldarium has an arched niche in its north wall containing a large plunge pool (pictured opposite). The caldarium has fared slightly worse than the preceding two rooms having lost most of its fresco decoration. One area that remains reasonably well preserved is the upper zone on the east wall (pictured below).
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In the centre of the south wall is a semi circular apse which would have been the location of a labrum. The apse retains some red fresco detail at the foot of the wall and is paved with a black and white mosaic featuring swimming dolphins. A large area of the floor is missing exposing the underlying hypocaust. .
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