Description of the House (Ins III, 13-15)
To construct the walls,
squared timber uprights or arrectaria (8 -12 cm thick) were combined
with horizontal transversaria (6 - 8 cm) to form panels measuring between
50 and 80 cm. These were then infilled with concrete and rubble.
To provide stability the main structure of the house was also
supported by piers of brick and blockwork. Other than economic reasons, the use of timber framing was probably
motivated by the amount of space which could be saved by using thin
off the west side of the courtyard (shown opposite) were two dimly lit
rooms (f) and (g), the latter being reached by way of a short corridor.
The rooms were undecorated and are currently in a fairly poor state of
it is the presence of furniture that makes these rooms all the more
remarkable - two beds and a cupboard in one room and a bed (pictured
right) and a cupboard in the other. The wooden cupboards were full of
objects including bronze statuettes of Jupiter
and a pair of Lares with opposite
hands held aloft holding drinking horns. Besides the statuary were more
mundane objects including a bronze weight, glass and pottery plates and
several glass paste beads.....The builder integrated the balcony by moving the
entrances to the outer rooms onto the exterior of the house as shown in
the photographs opposite. As a result, the occupiers of the apartment had access to a
small cenatio and a diaeta.
this apartment, like the one to the rear, some fourth style decoration
has survived as well as a few articles of furniture. There are the
remains of two beds of which one is a child's. There is also the wooden
pediment of a third cupboard, although this time it is devoid of any
Among the other finds were a marble statue base and the
lower half of of a marble oscillum
, a half moon plaque carved on both
sides, designed to rotate in the wind. Examples of oscilla
can be seen
in the atrium
of the House of the Relief of Telephus
The House of the Opus Craticium lies on the west side of Cardo IV and was excavated by Amedeo Maiuri between
1927 and 1933. The house is interesting because of its timber frame construction, referred to by Maiuri as opus craticium.
This term is rather misleading, however, as opus craticium
literally means partitioning made of reeds much like the traditional
English 'wattle and daub'. One wall in the house does show traces of
reeds but they did not form part of the construction and were simply
used as a key for the plaster finishing.
Numerous surviving examples of timber frame construction
have also been found at Pompeii, but the practice seems to have been
particularly favoured at Herculaneum.
house was divided into at least three (perhaps four) small apartments. These units are better
preserved under the layers of mud than the upper storeys of Pompeii,
which collapsed under the weight of the volcanic fallout. The house's
position in Insula III reveals that in its original form it was probably a small atrium house.
entrance to the house (in the middle of the picture above) opened onto a
passageway (a) leading to a central courtyard (d). On the right of the
passageway a doorway (pictured left) gave access to a small room (c)
under the stairs to one of the first floor apartments.
taberna (b), the entrance to which is pictured lower left, sat to the
left side of the passageway and incorporated several back rooms. Because
of the use of timber framing it was relatively easy to divide up the
ground-floor area in this manner.
central courtyard (pictured above and lower left) acted as a light well
and contained an impluvium to catch rain water. A wooden windlass (pictured below) was
found nearby giving a rare illustration of how water was drawn from the
underground cistern beneath the impluvium.
flight of wooden stairs (e) (pictured opposite and below) led to an
apartment on the first floor. Of this small flat, two rooms, lit by
windows overlooking the courtyard, retain quite elaborate fourth style
A second apartment was accessed directly from the street
by way of a flight of stairs on the north side of
the entrance. This apartment was larger than the first, consisting of five
rooms; the rooms to the rear were rather dimly lit, only gaining light from windows that overlooked the atrium of the adjoining House of the Bronze Herma.