Description of the House (Ins oI, 1)
House of the Gem was named after a piece of jewelery found there. The
jewelery dates from the Claudian period and bares the engraved
effigy of Livia. Together with the adjoining House of the Relief of Telephus they originally formed a single large property developed from a string
of standard plots.
The fauces (a) retains some of its third style decoration which
consisted of light red panels above a lower red frieze. The fauces,
which is paved in black with polychrome marble insets, opens onto a
Tuscan order atrium (b) with a central marble lined impluvium.
.. The house is located at the southern end of Cardo V. The
photograph opposite is of the House of the Gem viewed from the
entrance ramp to the south. The lower rooms which open onto the broad terrace overlooking the Suburban Thermae belong to the House of M. Pilius Primigenius Granianus (Ins oI, 1a).,,
The lower photograph is also
taken from the entrance ramp and shows the east side of the house, in
particular the tablinum and enclosed garden.
which has rooms off all but its northern side, is decorated with red
and black panels above a deep, lower red frieze. The atrium has a black
and white mosaic floor with a single white border. At the eastern end of
the atrium is the tablinum (c), delineated by a transverse row of Doric columns (pictured opposite).
the north side of the tablinum is a doorway to what was once a good
sized cubiculum (d) (now sadly completely ruinous) while a doorway on
the south side leads onto a fine terrace (f) which was originally enclosed by windows.
The terrace, which has a simple black mosaic pavement with a
white border, together with the tablinum, bound the west side of the
house's enclosed garden
off a small vestibule on the west side of the terrace is a large
triclinium (f) (pictured opposite) which is decorated in the third style
with red, yellow and black panels above a lower black decorative
The room has a fine white mosaic floor edged with a
double black border. In the centre of the floor is a virtual carpet of
mosaic which is sub-divided into twenty different styled blocks
featuring geometric designs surrounded by a rosette (pictured above).
Off the south west corner of the atrium, a passageway leads to the kitchen area and the latrines (pictured left), where some graffiti (CIL IV 10619) on one of the walls records the visit of a certain Apollinaris:
The graffiti translates as 'Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, defecated well here'. Short and to the point.
'Apollinaris medicus Titi imp(eratoris) hic cacavit bene'.