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House of the Gem

Description of the House (Ins oI, 1)

The 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.
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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.
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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.
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The atrium, 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).

On 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 (e).
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Opening 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 frieze.

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:
'Apollinaris medicus Titi imp(eratoris) hic cacavit bene'.
The graffiti translates as 'Apollinaris, the doctor of the emperor Titus, defecated well here'. Short and to the point.




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