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House of the Great Portal

Description of the House (Ins V, 35)

The house of the Great Portal was built on the site of the old peristyle of the neighbouring Samnite House. The name refers to its entrance, which consists of brick demi-columns, surmounted by Corinthian capitals carved with winged Victories. A footpath was later added along the length of the facade delineating the extent of the property, indicating that it did not include the insula's south east corner.
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Two cubicula (d) and (e) open off this corner of the vestibule. The larger southern room (e) (pictured below and opposite) is decorated in the fourth style with blue panels framed in red featuring architectural themes above a lower red and blue frieze. Round the walls run two beautifully detailed decorative bands, shown in the accompanying photographs.
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The fauces (a) opens off the north side of the Lower Decumanus onto a vestibule (b). Because of its history, the house has an unusual layout: in the absence of an atrium, the rooms radiate off an 'L' shaped vestibule which is lit by the remodelled court (c) (pictured left).

In building the house, the old peristyle court of the original Samnite House appears to have been reduced in size while new residential quarters and a kitchen wing were added to the north.

The vestibule has lost much of its original fourth style decoration, except on its west side where the remaining structure of the building has protected it from the elements
(shown opposite, with the courtyard on the left side of the picture).

The decoration in this area consists of black panels bordered in red, separated by architectural elements above a lower red and yellow frieze (pictured lower left). The central panel of the west wall contains a fine scene of butterflies with a bird pecking at some cherries (pictured below). The upper zone consists of geometric and architectural motifs on a white ground.
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The kitchen area (f) including a latrine (pictured above) is reached off the north side of the vestibule. A large oecus (g) can also be found on this side of the vestibule.
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The room (pictured above and left) is decorated in the fourth style with red panels separated by columns above a lower black frieze. The upper zone consists of geometric motifs on a white ground. The central panel of the rear wall contains a Dionysian scene (pictured left).


Like many properties, the house had a shop (h) opening onto the street. It was probably rented out.



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